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Can acne be genetic?

Not entirely, but partially, yes. In December 2018, a groundbreaking study published in Nature Communications looked at the DNA of 26,722 people, including 5,602 who have severe acne, and identified genetic variations in 15 genome regions that were more common in people with severe acne. Previously, acne was thought to be caused by skin inflammation. Many of the genetic variants discovered in the study, however, influence hair follicle formation, identifying this as a significant yet previously unknown risk factor for developing acne.

Other genetic aspects of acne include:

  • how our immune system responds to bacteria
  • a tendency to overproduce dead skin cells, leading to clogged pores
  • a genetic predisposition to overproduce sebum, leading to oily skin that traps bacteria in pores

Of course, there are also non-genetic causes for acne, such as hormones, stress, diet, and personal hygiene. General consensus, however, is that about 80% of acne is due to genetics.

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