Acne prevalence and associations with lifestyle: a cross-sectional online survey of adolescents/young adults in 7 European countries

J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2018 Feb;32(2):298-306. doi: 10.1111/jdv.14475. Epub 2017 Sep 6.


Background: Although acne vulgaris is a common skin disorder, limited epidemiological data exist specifically for European populations.

Objective: To determine the prevalence of self-reported acne among young people in Europe and evaluate the effect of lifestyle on acne.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional population-based online survey in representative samples of individuals aged 15-24 years in Belgium, Czech and Slovak Republics, France, Italy, Poland and Spain (n = 10 521), identified by a quota sampling method based on age, geographic location and socio-professional category.

Results: The overall adjusted prevalence of self-reported acne was 57.8% (95% confidence interval 56.9% to 58.7%). The rates per country ranged from 42.2% in Poland to 73.5% in the Czech and Slovak Republics. The prevalence of acne was highest at age 15-17 years and decreased with age. On multivariate analysis, a history of maternal or paternal acne was associated with an increased probability of having acne (odds ratio 3.077, 95% CI 2.743 to 3.451, and 2.700, 95% CI 2.391 to 3.049, respectively; both P < 0.0001), as was the consumption of chocolate (OR 1.276, 95% CI 1.094 to 1.488, for quartile 4 vs. quartile 1). Increasing age (OR 0.728, 95% CI 0.639 to 0.830 for age 21-24 years vs. 15-17 years) and smoking tobacco (OR 0.705, 95% CI 0.616 to 0.807) were associated with a reduced probability of acne.

Conclusion: The overall prevalence of self-reported acne was high in adolescents/young adults in the European countries investigated. Heredity was the main risk factor for developing acne.

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / epidemiology*
  • Acne Vulgaris / genetics
  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Chocolate
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Protective Factors
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Report
  • Tobacco Smoking
  • Young Adult