Acne is an extremely common skin condition with many causative factors. Although the condition occurs most frequently in adolescents, it can develop at any age. Acne skin lesions can be classified as either inflammatory or non-inflammatory. Inflammatory lesions are red bumps, or pimples; Non-inflammatory lesions are called comedones, which are also known as blackheads or whiteheads.
Four Main Factors in Acne
Clogging of the pore (most commonly from skin cells)
Each of these factors can be affected by various things. Essentially, acne is a multifactorial condition that can be problematic for many different people.
Cholecalciferol, or Vitamin D3, is an essential vitamin that plays an important role in immunity. A deficiency of Vitamin D has been correlated with skin conditions like atopic dermatitis (eczema), rosacea, and psoriasis[3,4].
Evidence for Vitamin D’s Effect on Acne
Several studies have looked at the link between Vitamin D and acne. A small clinical study showed that patients with acne had slightly lower values of serum Vitamin D, but also mention that there was no major association between serum levels and severity of the condition. In addition, this study did not differentiate between inflammatory and non-inflammatory lesions. On the other hand, in a clinical study that looked at both inflammatory lesions and non-inflammatory lesions found several important connections. Study patients with Vitamin D deficiency and acne were supplemented with 1000 IU of Vitamin D. They found that the inflammatory lesions improved over 8 weeks after supplementation, while non-inflammatory lesions did not change. The researchers also found that Vitamin D deficiency is more common in patients with acne, and serum levels of Vitamin D are inversely correlated with acne severity. In other words, when blood levels of Vitamin D are low, the severity of acne is high, and when the blood levels are high, the severity is low. A different study produced similar findings in that patients with a more severe and inflammatory type of acne called nodulocystic acne had significantly lower levels of Vitamin D than those in the control group.
It appears there is a connection between Vitamin D and acne, but it is important to understand this correlation more in depth. It appears that Vitamin D levels may be related to the level of acne inflammation and inflammatory lesions. The role of Vitamin D supplementation is not clear, although there may be a benefit to supplement Vitamin D in those individuals with low levels. Further studies are necessary to determine all relationships between Vitamin D and acne. It is important to remember that Vitamin D supplementation should be discussed with a licensed health provider prior to altering any acne treatment regimen.
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Wang SS, Hon KL, Kong AP, et al. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with diagnosis and severity of childhood atopic dermatitis. Pediatr Allergy Immunol.2014;25(1):30-35; PMID: 24383670 Link to research.
Ekiz O, Balta I, Sen BB, et al. Vitamin D status in patients with rosacea. Cutan Ocul Toxicol.2014;33(1):60-62; PMID: 23713748 Link to research.
Touma Z, Eder L, Zisman D, et al. Seasonal variation in vitamin D levels in psoriatic arthritis patients from different latitudes and its association with clinical outcomes. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken).2011;63(10):1440-1447; PMID: 22121512 Link to research.
Maleki M, Nahidi Y, Azizahari S, et al. Serum 25-OH Vitamin D Level in Psoriatic Patients and Comparison With Control Subjects. J Cutan Med Surg.2016;20(3):207-210; PMID: 26654984 Link to research.
Toossi P, Azizian Z, Yavari H, et al. Serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels in patients with acne vulgaris and its association with disease severity. Clin Cases Miner Bone Metab.2015;12(3):238-242; PMID: 26811702 Link to research.
Lim SK, Ha JM, Lee YH, et al. Comparison of Vitamin D Levels in Patients with and without Acne: A Case-Control Study Combined with a Randomized Controlled Trial. PLoS One.2016;11(8):e0161162; PMID: 27560161 Link to research.
Yildizgoren MT, Togral AK. Preliminary evidence for vitamin D deficiency in nodulocystic acne. Dermatoendocrinol.2014;6(1):e983687; PMID: 26413187 Link to research.