Some emerging evidence suggests that vitamin D can help with the symptoms of acne for those who have a vitamin D deficiency.

Exposure to sunlight is a significant source of vitamin D. People might also get vitamin D from supplements or creams.

People with vitamin D deficiencies are more susceptible to acne. However, despite claims that vitamin D can treat acne, scientists are still unclear whether vitamin D does have any effect.

This article looks at the evidence of links between vitamin D and acne and how to take it.

Learn more about acne and what causes it here.

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Acne happens when follicles, or small liquid-producing sacs in the skin, become blocked. These blockages can become inflamed and infected, causing painful pimples or cysts.

Androgens are a group of hormones that irritate the follicles. Bacteria then causes inflammation and swelling in the skin.

The lesions usually go away on their own, but they can also cause skin infections. Severe cases of acne may cause scarring and long-term skin damage.

Severe acne can cause keloid scarring or hyperpigmentation, both of which are more common among people with darker skin.

Anyone can get acne. But it is more common in adolescents, males, people taking androgen hormones, or those using products that clog follicles in the skin.

Learn about treatments for acne on black skin here.

People with acne are more likely to have vitamin D deficiency than those without acne. For example, a 2016 study of 80 people found that 49% of those with acne had low vitamin D levels compared to 23% of people without acne.

A 2014 study compared 43 people with acne to 46 people without acne. The study also found that people with acne had significantly lower vitamin D levels than people without acne but were similar in other relevant factors, such as body fat.

Another study in 2018 with similar findings also suggested that acne may limit the production of vitamin D. However scientists need to do further research to confirm these outcomes.

They also found a correlation between more severe vitamin D deficiencies and more severe cases of acne.

Learn about vitamin D deficiency here.

Many of the studies looking into vitamin D deficiency and acne have been small and inconclusive. If a vitamin D deficiency does increase the risk of acne, it does not mean that increasing vitamin D will treat the condition.

A 2020 study treated 100 people with alfacalcidol, which is a form of vitamin D. The study found that the supplement reduced inflammation and increased vitamin D levels. The researchers concluded that it might play a beneficial role in acne management and treatment. However, scientists need to do more research to test this further.

People interested in vitamin D supplements for acne can usually try these supplements safely.

Vitamin D deficiency is common, affecting nearly half of the adults in the United States. African-American or Mexican-American people are more likely to be vitamin D-deficient.

People with a deficiency and acne could benefit from trying vitamin D supplements.

Vitamin D may help ease inflammation, which could treat acne. Topical products are a way of applying vitamin D directly to the skin. However, there is a lack of research on whether these products can treat acne.

A 2014 study of 48 female medical students compared 24 females who used a topical vitamin D cream with 24 who used an aloe vera-based placebo. The results showed that topical vitamin D increased vitamin D levels.

The study did not assess the effects of rising vitamin D levels on skin or acne. However, the researchers state that topical products could help with acne if they increase vitamin D levels and reduce inflammation.

Learn whether aloe vera can help treat acne here.

Sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D. As dark skin tones absorb less vitamin D, this could contribute to higher rates of deficiency in people of color.

Just a few minutes of regular sun exposure can increase vitamin D levels. When out in the sunshine, try exposing the arms and legs to maximize exposure.

However, people who are very sensitive to the sun should limit their exposure to avoid burning.

Some evidence suggests that sunlight may also treat acne, but the data is inconclusive. For example, a 2018 study found that UVB light can improve acne treatments but found no benefits to using UVA or UVB light alone.

Learn more about sunburn on black skin here.

In addition to sunlight, other sources of vitamin D include:

  • foods naturally high in vitamin D, such as:
    • tuna
    • beef liver
    • egg yolks
  • foods supplemented with vitamin D, such as:
    • milk
    • yogurt
    • cereals
  • supplements, such as:
    • fish oil supplements
    • vitamin D supplement

Learn about the best foods for vitamin D here.

Vitamin D is essential for cell health and metabolism. A vitamin D deficiency can cause several health issues, including:

Some research suggests that vitamin D supplements may offer anti-inflammatory benefits, promote a healthier immune system, and support healthy blood vessels.

Learn more about the causes and treatments of a vitamin D deficiency here.

Vitamin D supplements may help with symptoms of acne in people who are deficient in this vitamin. It remains unclear whether people without a vitamin D deficiency would benefit from taking supplements.

Always check with a doctor before taking vitamin D supplements. A doctor can measure vitamin D levels to detect possible deficiencies.