Association between isolated female acne and insulin resistance: a prospective study

G Ital Dermatol Venereol. 2016 Aug;151(4):353-7. Epub 2015 Sep 15.


Background: Acne is one of the manifestations of the polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Nowadays hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance are well-known characteristics of PCOS. The aim of this study was to investigate the relation between isolated female acne and insulin resistance and to determine the effect of hyperandrogenemia in this possible relationship.

Methods: Forty five women with acne and 24 healthy women aged 25-40 were included in the study. The global acne grading system (GAGS) was used to evaluate acne severity. Blood samples were drawn for measurements of hormone profile, basal insulin and fasting blood glucose (FBG). The oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) was performed on another day. homeostasis model assessment (HOMA) score was used to assess insulin resistance (IR). All subjects underwent abdominopelvic sonography.

Results: Thirty-six women with acne and 24 healthy women were analyzed after exclusion. Fifteen (42%) patients had moderate acne, 11 (30%) had severe acne and 10 (28%) had very severe acne. Basal insulin, FBG, AUC glucose, AUC insulin and HOMA values were significantly higher in patients with acne when compared with the control group (P<0.05). After excluding patients with hyperandrogenemia, we compared the patients (N.=22) and control group with regard to IR; the serum basal insulin, AUC-insulin and AUC-glucose as well as HOMA score were still significantly higher in patients (P<0.05).

Conclusions: We concluded that there is a relationship between female acne and IR. This association is independent of hyperandrogenemia. Anti-insulin drugs may an adjunctive treatment of female acne.

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / pathology*
  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Hyperandrogenism / epidemiology*
  • Insulin / blood*
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin