Background: Acne is usually perceived as a disease of teenagers, and most epidemiological studies have focused on adolescents.
Objective: The primary objective was to investigate the prevalence of acne in a representative sample of French females. Information about skin type, life-style factors influencing acne and quality of life were also recorded.
Methods: A self-administered questionnaire was sent to 4,000 adult women aged 25-40 years, after a validation test by three dermatologists. A definition of acne severity, according to questionnaire answers, was established before the questionnaire was sent out.
Results: A total of 3394 women completed the questionnaire of which 3,305 were useable. The data showed a prevalence of acne in 17% of the population, and physiological acne in 24%. Thus, the total acne prevalence was 41%. Forty-nine per cent of the acne patients had acne sequelae (scars and/or pigmented macules). Forty-one per cent of adult acne patients had not experienced acne during their adolescence. A premenstrual flare and stress was recorded as causing acne in 78% and 50%, respectively. Twenty-two per cent of acne subjects were currently receiving therapy. For most patients, acne did not severely impair their quality of life.
Conclusion: This study shows a prevalence of acne in 41% of women in the general population. A high proportion of these acne cases are late onset acne.