Have you ever noticed that some people never get a single pimple their entire lives? Okay maybe one or two whiteheads randomly, but still! They can have the worst skincare routine, diet, and never work out but somehow their skin is magically clear- while I'm over here chugging down a celery juice each morning, running a 5k, practicing yoga, and still suffering consistently with acne! But yet there's STILL this terrible misunderstood stigma that people who suffer with acne are unkempt or need a cleaner diet- what's up with that?What about t
So why is it that some people can get away with an improper diet, little to no workout routine, and wash their face with hand soap but have clear glowing skin?
Aha, It's all about the genes!
How Genetics Influence your Skin
Genetics play a huge role when it comes to the development of acne, meaning that if your mom and dad had acne, it is likely that you will develop it too. Not absolutely 100% guaranteed, but likely. The more people in your family that have acne, uncles, brothers, sisters, aunts, grandmas, grandpas, the greater the chances of developing it become. We inherit certain genes from different parents, which are known as hereditary factors. Blue eyes, red hair, small nose, etc. and acne is no different.
There have been studies proving higher instances of acne when the mother, rather than the father, had acne. This suggests that acne may possibly be linked to the X chromosome rather than the Y. Interestingly enough I can only think of maybe one time growing up that my dad ever had a pimple, while my mom, at 50 years old, still gets a pimple around that time of the month which leads me to strongly believe that yes in my case, the X chromosome must carry the trait.
"Neonatal, nodulocystic, and conglobate acne have proven genetic influences. Post adolescent acne is related with a first-degree relative with the condition in 50 % of the cases."
So, if one of your parents had acne you have a 50/50 chance of developing the disease yourself, so again not guaranteed but it's likely.
The IGF-1 Gene and Acne
Okay so this is where we get all scientific and fancy, but keep reading because its important- I promise! There have been multiple studies conducted linking acne to a variety of genes, specifically IGF-1 and the AR gene. IGF-1 is basically a hormone that controls bodily inflammation.
In a more recent study in 2015, acne was found to have a clear correlation with IGF-1 and that certain dietary foods (such as milk and dairy products) which contain the growth hormone IGF-1, aggravate acne symptoms further.
"Higher IGF-1 levels correlate with the clinical manifestation of acne"
"Acne correlates with increased sebum production. GH, insulin, and IGF-1 increase sebaceous gland growth, differentiation, and sebaceous lipogenesis. Remarkably, increased serum IGF-1 levels have been measured in women with post-adolescent acne. Recently, an association between IGF-1 gene polymorphism and acne has been reported. Patients who observed an aggravation of their acne by food intake exhibited higher IGF-1 serum levels compared with those who observed no acne aggravation by food intake."
Basically, this says that those who suffer with adult acne have higher IGF-1 levels AND acne that is easily aggravated by food such as dairy, refined carbs, and saturated fats, can be linked to a higher IGF-1 level.
Pretty crazy right? But it explains a lot! Acne sufferers who already have higher levels of systematic inflammation can't deal with the excess inflammation caused by processed meats and dairy. This is why when one person's eats the standard American diet their skin may be completely fine because they're not predisposed to the condition or higher levels of inflammation (basically their DNA is wired differently).
Will I get Acne if my Parents Had it?
If your parents have acne don't fret, it doesn’t mean that your fate is sealed. There are plenty of clear skinned kids whose parents have acne and vice versa. There's a lot more that goes into acne than just genetics, it could be hormonal, dietary, overly aggressive skincare products, excessive stress, an overly acidic body, gut problems, uncontrollable bodily inflammation, and the list goes on and on and on.
So, just because you are predisposed to having acne because of your genes, it doesn't mean you will are determined to have red raging deep uncontrollable cystic acne. Just like if you are predisposed to obesity it doesn't necessarily mean you will be overweight. I like to think that we are (somewhat) in control of our acne with the choices we make. Here me out on this!
For example, if you are overly stressed and do nothing about it you may get a blemish but if you choose to workout it can help your body to cope with stress and release endorphins that will make you feel amazinnnggg. Also, if you eat loads of sugary cereal, dairy, and processed meats rather than organic vegetables, whole grains, and organic meat your skin may be a reflection of that.
Of course, there's always behind the scenes issues such as hormonal imbalances, food intolerances and gut problems but that doesn't mean you have to live with your acne at in its worst possible state. Sometimes breakouts are inevitable but that doesn’t mean you should give up. You can always try to improve your acne and figure out the root cause by being proactive through choices you make everyday.
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Kali Kushner, known as the Instagram alias myfacestory, is a natural beauty advocate in the greater Cincinnati area who is passionate about using organic skincare and holistic remedies to heal acne from the inside out. Her dedication lies in her own chronic acne struggles as she continues to restore herself while helping those around her.