A Time-Series Study of the Effect of Air Pollution on Outpatient Visits for Acne Vulgaris in Beijing

Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2018;31(2):107-113. doi: 10.1159/000484482. Epub 2018 Feb 7.


Background/aims: There is increasing evidence that exposure to air pollutants, including particulate matter (PM2.5, PM10), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and sulfur dioxide (SO2), might aggravate preexisting skin diseases such as eczema and urticaria. Here we investigated if a possible link exists between air pollution and acne vulgaris. We assessed the association between ambient air pollutant concentrations and the number of visits of patients for acne vulgaris to a dermatological outpatient clinic in Beijing, China, from April 1, 2012 to April 30, 2014.

Methods: In this time period, 59,325 outpatient visits were recorded because of acne vulgaris. Daily air pollution parameters for PM10, PM2.5, SO2, and NO2 were obtained from the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center.

Results: Increased concentrations of ambient PM2.5, PM10, and NO2 were significantly associated with increased numbers of outpatient visits for acne vulgaris over the 2 years. These effects could be observed for NO2 in a single-pollutant model and for PM2.5, PM10, and NO2 in 2-pollutant models, which are closer to real-life exposure. Of note, these effects were specific because they were not observed for increased SO2 concentrations, which even showed negative correlations in all test models.

Conclusion: This study provides indirect evidence for a link between acne vulgaris and air pollution.

Keywords: Acne vulgaris; Air pollution; China; Particulate matter; Time-series study.

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / pathology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Beijing
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nitrogen Dioxide / adverse effects
  • Outpatients
  • Particulate Matter / adverse effects
  • Sulfur Dioxide / adverse effects
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter
  • Sulfur Dioxide
  • Nitrogen Dioxide