Acne, it’s something almost all of us have to deal with at some point. However, why does it exist? Is it something evolutionary - or is it merely a product of our lifestyle? Let's not discuss about what it is, or how to get rid of it.
Let's talk about the purpose behind acne. The real evolutionary reason as to why humans suffer from it. Is there even a reason? Acne or pimples can’t do anything good, right? It just makes our lives miserable. So why do we get it?
Well believe it or not, there’s still a lot about acne that we don’t know. But there are a handful of theories out there, that seek to explain why it’s such a common problem.
One theory, proposed by evolutionary biologists Stephen Kellett and Paul Gilbert, is that acne evolved because humans lost our body fur too quickly for our skin to keep up. According to them, our skin’s sebaceous glands—which were at one point, almost entirely covered in fur. Haven’t evolved at the same pace at which we lost our fur. So as a result, all of the sebum that once existed in order to lubricate our fur - has no more fur to lubricate. So now, it just clogs our pores instead. That’s one explanation!
Another study, published in 2004, theorizes that the time frame of acne. The fact that it’s most prevalent during puberty. Suggests that it plays a role in sexual selection. They refer to acne as a “high-order psychoneuroimmune interaction” that functions to ward off potential mates until a person is past the age of reproductive maturity, and thus, “emotionally, intellectually, and physically fit to be a parent.” Which makes perfect sense - but then why do some adults still get acne? Are they just unfit parents? Of course not! We mean maybe, we don’t really know.
But both of those theories could explain why humans adapted to have acne.Diet, for example, has been shown to have an effect on our skin—and the fact that the human diet in particular has changed so drastically over the span of our existence. It means that modern agriculture could be the culprit. Specifically, dairy and grains. Both of which have been linked to increased levels of acne.
Other arguments say that acne may not be an adaptation at all - but rather, a side effect of our lifestyle.
There was an interesting study about this back in 2005, that talked about tribal people from Canada and Japan, who broke out after being introduced to dairy. And a similar story, about aborigines from Paraguay and Papua New Guinea that ate almost no complex carbs, and likewise had no history of acne.
There could be a lot of reasons for that though, one of which is the basis for another major lifestyle theory. Which is that we simply wash our faces too much. This is definitely one of the more experimental suggestions, given that there isn’t a whole lot of data to back it up, but it does make sense. Early humans almost never bathed. However, now we live in an age where it’s considered hygienic to wash our faces twice a day. And by constantly removing the surface oil from our faces. It’s possible that we’re actually inducing the opposite effect. We’re sending our oil glands into overproduction, resulting in even more oil than what’s natural.
Again, most of this is pure conjecture, but anecdotally some of my friends never washed their faces, didn’t even get them wet in the shower - and they had perfect skin. Never had a pimple in their life. Which is probably more due to genetics than anything else.
What do you guys think? Have you suffered from acne, and if so, what did you to do fix it? Let us know your thoughts, in the comments below.