Acne: the triggering factors

Actu GP Acné : les facteurs déclenchants

An international team has identified the broad categories of environmental, psychological and social factors that encourage the appearance of acne. A sound knowledge of these parameters— collectively called the exposome —facilitates the implementation of preventive or corrective actions.


“Improve your exposome!” This could be the new health slogan aimed at people suffering from acne, a common inflammatory disease1. This was confirmed by an analysis performed by an international team of experts, who have described the acne exposome in detail on the basis of the agreed recommendations of European dermatologists, and a bibliographic analysis of the major studies of this subject. The skin is one of the largest interfaces between the body and the external environment. As a true “barrier”, its main task is to protect the host against external aggressions (environmental factors and pathogens) by means of the beneficial microorganisms present on its surface.

6 factors in the spotlight

The work carried out identified six categories of factors liable to interact with the skin, the sebaceous glands, the immune system and/or the skin microbiota: nutrition, in particular dairy products and sugar-rich food products; certain drug treatments, especially hormone therapies; airborne, industrial and human pollutants such as cigarette smoke; climate conditions such as heat, light and UV radiation; behavior that harms the skin (use of unsuitable cosmetics, exfoliation, scrubs...) and finally various psychosocial and behavioral factors, including stress, sleep problems and lifestyle.

Protecting the microbiota to protect the skin

Provided that exposure to ultraviolet rays (UVA and UVB), known to activate sebum secretion, is avoided, probiotics seem to have a beneficial effect on acne lesions when they are used as supplements. The relationship between exposome, microbiota and acne remains to be further explored, but one thing is certain: preserving the diversity of skin microorganisms plays an important role in defending the organism against the activation of immune phenomena that triggers inflammation. Proper management of risk factors therefore appears an accessible means of preventing or limiting acne.


1. Acne results from an inflammation of the cavity where hair grows. It is associated with oversecretion of sebum and an imbalance of the skin microbiota.



B. Dréno, V. Bettoli, E. Araviiskaia, et al. The influence of exposome on acne. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2018 Jan 29.