The relationship between acne vulgaris and irritable bowel syndrome: A preliminary study

J Cosmet Dermatol. 2021 Jan;20(1):316-320. doi: 10.1111/jocd.13481. Epub 2020 May 28.


Background: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional gastrointestinal disease characterized by chronic abdominal pain and changes in bowel movements without underlying organic pathology. Many skin diseases have been reported to be more common in individuals with functional bowel diseases.

Aims: In this study, we aimed to investigate a possible relationship between acne vulgaris (AV) and IBS.

Patients/methods: This prospective controlled study included patients with AV and healthy volunteers. All the subjects were evaluated in terms of the presence of IBS. The diagnosis of IBS was made based on the ROME IV diagnostic criteria. The clinical severity of AV was calculated using the global acne grading system (GAGS).

Results: A total of 300 patients with acne vulgaris and 300 age and gender-matched healthy controls were included in the study. The majority of the patients were female (n = 175, 58.3%). The mean ages of the patients and controls were 20.22 ± 5.24 years and 20.49 ± 5.36 years, respectively. A total of 183 patients (61.0%) and 84 (28.0%) controls were diagnosed with IBS based on the Rome IV diagnostic criteria. The frequency of IBS was statistically significantly higher in the patient group than in the control group. (P = .001). There was also statistically significant relationship between the GAGS scores and IBS diagnosis (P = .001), abnormal stool form (P = .001), abdominal distention (P = .001), and feeling of incomplete evacuation (P = .001).

Conclusion: Our study showed that IBS is significantly more common in patients with AV than in healthy controls. Additionally, GAGS scores were higher in patients diagnosed with IBS. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study focusing on the subject.

Keywords: acne vulgaris; bowel; irritable bowel syndrome; skin.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain
  • Acne Vulgaris* / complications
  • Acne Vulgaris* / epidemiology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome* / complications
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome* / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Young Adult