Acne is a long-term skin disease where hair follicles are clogged with oil and dead skin cells on the skin. This usually occurs in areas of the skin that have a high number of oil glands, such as the face, neck, upper chest and back. Blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, oily skin and scarring are common characteristics of acne. Acne usually forms during puberty, but can also occur due to using medications such as steroids, which increase testosterone production. Approximately 80%-90% of teenagers in the western world develop acne, and for half of those affected, acne can persist into their 20s and 30s. On rare occasions, acne may continue past one’s 40s. Acne affects 633 million people worldwide, making it the 8th most common disease in the world.
Another factor is the growth of Propionibacterium acnes on the skin. Acne is sometimes also known as acne vulgaris. The link between acne and diet and smoking are not fully understood, and the chances of developing it have little to do with cleanliness and exposure to sunlight. Treatment methods include avoiding refined sugars and following a healthy diet, azelaic acid, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, antibiotics and retinoids. In moderate-to-severe cases of acne, where acne may cause a significant change in appearance and hence affect a person’s self-esteem, antidepressants and anxiolytics may be prescribed. Exercise can cut stress and therefore prevent anxiety-triggered acne outbreaks, but sweat can aggravate the condition, so hit the shower after a session asap!
Due to acne being a bacterial infection, antibiotics may be used to beat acne. Unfortunately, this also leads to antibiotic resistance, which means that using such a method is ideally avoided except in the most severe cases. This means that, other than using chemicals that could cause the skin to peel and itch, there are relatively few ways of treating acne effectively.
Now, the evidence of the efficacy of cannabis for acne is mixed. Some state that THC causes a spike in testosterone, which may cause an outbreak of acne. Others point out that, after this spike, we see a drop in testosterone, so THC may beat acne over the long-term. THC may therefore increase sebum production and the chances of an acne outbreak. CBD, on the other hand, seems to stop sebum production and dry out the skin. Both cannabinoids have anti-inflammatory properties. Terpenoids such as pinene may also help, as could linalool.