Physiological & Environmental Factors That Influence Acne

The following are the physiological and environmental factors that may help or aggravate acne:

(1) Diet: A large number of foods are blamed for acne, like pork fat and chocolate, but there is no scientific proof. Chocolate have no influence on acne whatsoever, severe diet restriction reduces seborrhea, but this is not a routine treatment. Several studies have been done about diet and acne. A study was done in Papua New Guinea and AcheĀ­ hunters in Paraguay and in the study not a single male or female was found with acne, and it was proposed that diet was responsible for that. But since the above populations live in close communities so genetic factors also must be important. The authors of the study suggested that western diet has a high glycemic index (diet rich in food which trigger insulin and insulin-like growth factor secretion). This induces seborrhea and comedones and acne. Acne also occurs less frequently in Japan, Zambia and Nigeria, where diets are different from that of western countries. But lower incidence of acne may be due to genetic and other environmental factors. There is a possible effect of nutrition on acne and this is seen during puberty, when there is higher chance of acne and body weight is about 48 kg at that time. The trend of increased body weight and early puberty has given rise to early appearance of acne.

(2) Sweating: Up to 15% of patients with acne suffer from deterioration of acne due to sweating when they work in hot & humid environment, for example, for a cook; it may be due to ductal hydration which causes blockage of pilosebceous duct.

(3) Ultraviolet radiation: Many people including doctors accept that natural sunlight improves acne, though there is no scientific evidence for this, only explanation may be the tanning effect. Artificial UV rays are less effective for this purposes than natural sunlight.

(4) Premenstrual Flare: More then two third of women complain of aggravation of acne 2 to 7 days before menstruation. It is very difficult to explain. It may be due to hydration of pilosebaceous ducts before menstruation. Progesterone and estrogen both have pro-inflammatory as well as ant-inflammatory effects. Regulation of aspects of inflammation can make teleological (teleology: the doctrine of final causes) sense at premenstrual period.

(5) Occupation: Hydration of pilosebaceus duct and its stratum corneum can induce acne in occupations like catering and steam cleaning and cooking. Patients dealing with oil may form acneiform oil follicles, particularly in limbs and trunk. When their work clothing gets heavily contaminated. Chloracne are produced by accidental exposure to halogenated hydrocarbons (halogens are fluorine, chlorine, bromine and iodine).

(6) Smoking and Acne: In a study it was found that there is high prevalence of acne among smokers. The more number of cigarettes smoked per day more prevalence of acne.

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