Acne can affect anyone at any time, regardless of sex, age, or ancestry. That said, some demographics are more prone to developing types of acne than others. If you’ve noticed that teenage boys have more severe acne than teenage girls, or that adult women have more acne than adult men, you’re not alone. Risk factors for acne will come into play at different points in peoples lives, and this can impact the type of acne they have.


This guide is designed to point out the sex, age, and ethnicity-related risk factors associated with four major types of acne. However, if you have one of the following conditions, consider visiting a dermatologist – regardless of whether you fall into a high-risk category. Dermatologists can help clear your acne regardless of age, sex, and ancestry, preparing you to face the world with a clearer face for years to come.


Risk Factors for Acne Vulgaris

Acne vulgaris affects over 80 percent of Americans at some point during their lives, with 20 percent experiencing severe acne. Characterized by noninflammatory comedones (whiteheads or blackheads), or inflammatory cysts or nodes, this type of acne most often affects the face, chest, and back. It occurs when sebaceous glands overproduce sebum, or oil. This oil mixes with dead skin cells and bacteria, resulting in a plugged pore, which manifests as acne.

  • Sex: Acne vulgaris is more common in adolescent males than in adolescent females. However, this switches as people age, coming more common in adult females than in adult males.
  • Age: Adolescent acne vulgaris typically begins with the onset of puberty, or when a person is around 12 years old. Minor acne typically persists through the teenage years and into the mid-twenties.
  • Ancestry: The cystic iteration of acne vulgaris is more prevalent in the Mediterranean region, from Spain to Iran. This may mean that people of Mediterranean descent may be more at risk for developing acne vulgaris. Additionally, those with darker skin are more prone to post-acne hyperpigmentation.


Risk Factors for Acne Fulminans

Little is known about this rare but serious skin condition. Primary acne fulminans symptoms involve severe, ulcerating acne, as well as fever, polyarthritis, and sudden onset. Antibacterial therapy is not often effective, and acne fulminans is often associated with bone lesions, constitutional symptoms, and laboratory abnormalities. Not much is known about how or why this condition forms, but it is thought to be linked to androgen, a male sex hormone.

  • Age: This disease predominantly affects young people, typically between the ages of 13 and 22 years old. Most people have a prior history of acne.
  • Sex: Acne fulminans most often affects young males. There have been isolated cases where young adult females have the condition.
  • Ancestry: There are only approximately 150 patients with acne fulminans in the world. This means there is not a large enough sample size to understand how ethnicity and ancestry may play a role. However, genetic factors are thought to play an important role.


Risk Factors for Acne Conglobata

Acne conglobata is an unusually severe form of acne. It is primarily characterized by interconnected, burrowing abscesses and irregular scars. Comedones, or non-inflammatory acne, typically appear in groups of 2 or 3 above deep-set cysts, which are often filled with foul-smelling pus. Acne conglobata is most often found on the chest, shoulders, back, upper arms, thighs, and the face. It can develop as the result of a sudden cessation of existing papules and pustules, or it can exist as a chronic, recurring condition.

  • Age: This condition typically begins to present in young adults, often between the ages of 18 and 30. However, infants can also develop this condition.
  • Sex: Acne conglobata affects males more often than it does females, but there have been cases in both sexes. Researchers think that androgen, a male sex hormone, is linked to its development. Acne conglobata may also appear after stopping testosterone therapy.
  • Ancestry: This form of severe acne is very uncommon. This means there is not enough data regarding ethnicity and ancestry to assume a causal relationship.


Risk Factors for Acne Mechanica

Acne mechanica is a common form of acne. It occurs as the result of friction, such as when clothing fits too tightly, or when skin rubs against skin. However, acne mechanica is a product of environmental circumstance, not hormonal or internal changes. As a result, it can happen to any person at any time in their lives. A genetic predisposition to the condition may increase a person’s likelihood of developing acne mechanica lesions, but age, sex, and ethnicity do not typically impact this type of acne.


When to See a Doctor for Acne

No matter your age, sex, or ancestry, visiting a dermatologist is a great step toward clearing your acne. The doctors at the Skin Care Center of Southern Illinois can examine your skin, provide a diagnosis, and recommend a treatment option that works for you and your lifestyle. Whether you have the occasional outbreak of acne vulgaris or suspect something more serious, like acne conglobata, visiting a doctor is the best thing you can do. Contact us to schedule your consultation today.