In 2004, Dale F. Bloom wrote an interesting article which was published in the journal Medical Hypothesis. Mr. Bloom contends that acne may be evolution’s way of preventing us from reproducing before we are physically and mentally ready to take care of our offspring. My summary:

The brain: Our pre-frontal cortex, the part of our brain which makes us uniquely homo sapien, is only finished maturing in our early 20s. It develops last and is responsible for good judgement, impulse control, planning, and danger response–all of which help us raise healthy and safe children.

Adolescence: Our ancient ancestors needed to learn the tricky skills involved in hunting and gathering, and it is more than likely that the adolescent years were ground zero for learning these important life strategies. Once learned, a person would be much better prepared to raise his or her young.

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Acne’s role: Acne shows up at the onset of adolescence, and Bloom argues that unhealthy appearing skin may make a person less desirable to the opposite sex. Acne thus does the job of preventing conception. As acne subsides with the end of adolescence, a person is psychologically ready to raise children and has learned the skills needed to provide for his or her young.

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But what about adults with acne? Bloom hypothesizes that certain physical diseases such as polycystic ovary syndrome, various substances such as steroids, or chronic stress may result in hormonal imbalances which cause adults to suffer with acne. He goes on to entertain the notion that perhaps humans evolved adult signs of acne as a physical sign of chronic stress, thus reducing the likelihood that a chronically stressed individual would reproduce.

Today’s Hunter/Gatherers: Anthropologists have reported zero incidence of acne in two modern hunter/gatherer tribes from Papua New Guinea and Paraguay. Interestingly, the Paraguayan girls the anthopologists visited don’t get their first period until they are on average 16 years old. The average age in the U.S. is 12. The Peruvian girls, Bloom says, therefore have less need for acne in order to prevent early pregnancy.

Fascinating stuff to ponder. Thanks Mr. Bloom.

Hey you guys. I’ve been spending today researching oral contraceptives and acne. It’s interesting stuff. However, I ran out of time before I got to a daily video again! I’ll be sure to get one up tomorrow.

In the meantime, if you are jonesin’ for a good video, might I suggest the one from 2 days ago titled “Dental health does not take a holiday”? We had a lot of fun doing that one and worked all day on it so you guys have to watch it ๐Ÿ˜‰

Have a great evening everybody!

Dan

Hi you guys. I didn’t have time for a video today. I’ve been researching women & acne for the last few hours. It’s a fascinating topic, yet somewhat frustrating. We do know that hormone fluctuations tend to cause breakouts, and hormones fluctuate more widely in women. However, the exact mechanism of this is highly complex and oftentimes we don’t know exactly what causes the fluctuations. I feel like I keep saying, “the bottom line is we just don’t know”, about a bunch of acne related topics, and women & acne is no exception. But still, there is interesting research going on, and we do have effective ways of clearing acne even if we don’t fully understand why it occurs.

While researching cosmetics and acne, I read a particularly interesting study. The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology concluded that just because finished products might contain comedogenic ingredients doesn’t necessarily mean the product itself is comedogenic. I have always suspected and stated that we can’t fully trust comedogenic lists. Lots of us here have had success with products which contain some of the “bad” ingredients on these lists. In my opinion, we need to take those lists with a grain of salt, while remaining vigilant and sharing our personal success or failures with certain products.