Global Study Reveals Population-Based Trends in Acne

globe map trends earth
globe map trends earth
The latest magnitudes and international trends in acne vulgaris are mapped in this study.

The global burden of acne vulgaris was summarized in study data published in the British Journal of Dermatology. Compared with rates in 1990, the overall worldwide prevalence of acne has increased significantly, with trends differing by age, sex, and country of residence.

Investigators extracted data from the Global Burden of Disease 2019 Study (GBD 2019), a comprehensive analysis of epidemiological trends in 204 countries and territories. The GBD 2019 database includes 105 original data sources on acne trends worldwide, including outpatient data and published studies. The study authors calculated the incidence and prevalence rates of acne vulgaris for the years 1990 through 2019. The number of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) was also estimated for each year. Prevalence rates were stratified by sex and region. Uncertainty intervals (UI) were computed for each metric.

From 1990 to 2019, the global number of incident acne vulgaris cases increased from 79.7 (95% UI, 67.0-91.1) to 117.4 (95% UI, 103.0-133.7) million. In the same timeframe, the number of prevalent cases increased from 156.7 (95% UI, 140.2-174.5) to 231.2 (95% UI, 208.2-255.5) million and the number of DALYs increased from to 3.4 (95% UI, 2.0-5.3) to 5.0 (95% UI, 3.0-7.9) million. The average increase in age-standardized prevalence rates was 0.55% (95% UI, 0.53-0.56) per year.

The prevalence of acne was greatest in countries with a high sociodemographic index (SDI), particularly Western Europe, East Asia, and high-income areas of the Asia Pacific. The regions with the lowest prevalence rates were Central Europe, Tropical Latin America, and Central Asia. Prevalence increased over time in all regions except high-income North America, with the greatest changes observed in East Asia, North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. The prevalence of acne was 1.3 times greater in women compared with men, although the gap narrowed over time. The age-specific burden of acne was concentrated in adolescents aged 10 to 19 years, with prevalence dropping off sharply after 20 years of age. Even so, prevalence increased among all age groups from 1990 to 2019.

As study limitations, investigators noted that data were sparse in certain regions of the world, particularly Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, the consistency of acne rates between countries is likely affected by different diagnostic criteria and practices, it was noted.

Based on the results of this study, the global burden of acne appears to be increasing over time, the researchers noted. Further studies designed to identify the reasons for this increase are warranted, according to the investigators.

“Understanding the specific characteristics of acne vulgaris burden across the world is of utmost importance to formulate more effective and targeted prevention and intervention of acne vulgaris, such as related health education, available early treatment consultation, affordable regular use of drugs, monitoring acne vulgaris progress, and psychosocial support, especially for young patients,” investigators wrote.


Chen H, Zhang TC, Yin XL, Man JY, Yang XR, Lu M. Magnitude and temporal trend of acne vulgaris burden in 204 countries and territories from 1990 to 2019: a analysis from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019. Br J Dermatol. Published online November 10, 2021. doi:10.1111/bjd.20882