Why Don’t Hunter Gatherers Get Acne?

Why Don’t Hunter Gatherers Get Acne?


Have you ever wondered why in developed regions we seem to get so much acne but in less developed areas this is so rare?

On a global scale acne affects around 85% of people aged between 12 and 25. However in less developed regions this is far less common. In one study from the international journal of dermatology it showed that acne only affected around 5.37% of the population of the study from three rural Egyptian villages [1].

Even further than this, there are actually some small areas where acne isn’t present at all. Including the Bantus in South Africa, the Eskimos and some South American Indians [2].

So, you’re probably wondering, why is this? Is this just simply because of genetics or are the differences in our environment causing acne? Or is it our lifestyles that is causing it?

I’ll run through each in greater detail but overall genetics probably aren’t your answer and nor is our environment but lifestyle is probably the largest reason.


So firstly, let’s run through genetics. We know that within indigenous hunter gatherer groups there isn’t a huge amount of genetic mixing in terms of outside individuals. Therefore, their gene pools are not as diluted as ours have historically been and as a result their genetic traits are more amplified. Meaning, some people have hypothesized that these individuals may carry some kind of genetic protection from acne.

Now I don’t believe this is probably a strong argument as we have found that when these individuals move to a more industrialised environment the rates of acne increased [3]. Therefore, this shows that genetics aren’t as strong of an influence in this case.


Okay so could environment be the reason these individuals rarely suffer from acne? My first suspicion would probably be air pollution which could influence this skin disease and I’d imagine air pollution is much higher in developed areas. However, I couldn’t find much research or evidence for or against this argument so I won’t touch on it.

The second reason could be sun exposure due to the fact that hunter-gatherers will be exposed to more sunlight from spending less time indoors. It’s a known fact that the sun is our main source of vitamin D production which aids skin health and healing, and also has a positive effect against acne. There hasn’t however been much evidence to show that sun exposure improves acne but much stronger evidence that it causes photo aging of the skin.

The third could be C.acnes bacteria which we know plays a part in acne formation. Specifically, it is involved with the inflammatory response. However, we see this bacterium in both acne suffers and non-acne sufferers.


So lastly let’s run through lifestyle which I believe is the most likely reasoning for this huge disparity in acne prevalence. I’m going to talk about the two biggest differences between our lifestyles that I believe cause us to have much more acne.

The first being diet which I know is fairly controversial when it comes to whether this causes acne, with some studies saying diet affects acne and some saying it doesn’t but in the case of scenarios with a lack of conclusive studied evidence but a high level of anecdotal evidence I would say follow the anecdotal reports.

Our excessive consumption of dairy, sugar, trans fats and saturated fats is very likely making our acne much worse. A diet high in sugars for example will excessively raise insulin which can cause an excessive growth of skin cells which can contribute to pores being clogged. High insulin can also increase testosterone which increases sebum levels resulting in pores being clogged.

The second factor here is stress. I’m going to cover stress in a whole other article because I not only believe it contributes to a huge level of skin issues such as acne, aging or any inflammatory skin condition but it can damage our overall health so dramatically [4].

We live such stressful lives in developed countries now and it is affecting our health. We aren’t sleeping enough, resting enough, and we work and study so many hours a week. We are putting extraordinary pressure on ourselves. I won’t even talk on how much social media and economic issues like housing prices is making us feel stressed.

One study I think is quite relevant is the measure of the increase in acne over the last few decades which we know has been across a time when we have seen a surge in the number of women entering the workforce [5].


So overall I encourage you to look at your diet and stress in particular as these will be the biggest contributors. If you are debating whether your diet is bad, it probably is and if you’re debating whether you’re too stressed you probably are, we are just so accustomed to high pressure lives now that it feels normal.

If you would like to get back to nature with your skin, then using Aqneeq's natural products will be a great step forward.



[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14636205

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21669244

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12472346

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21669244

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24952024

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