Was There Acne in Ancient Times?

Acne is a skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads on the face, neck, chest, and back.

But have you ever wondered if acne existed in ancient times? In this article, we will explore the history of acne and its presence in different eras.

Acne in Ancient Times

Acne has been around for centuries. In fact, ancient texts from Egypt, Greece, and Rome describe the presence of skin blemishes that are similar to acne. For instance, the Ebers Papyrus, an Egyptian medical text from 1550 BC, mentions a treatment for “boils and pimples.”

Similarly, Greek physician Galen (129-216 AD) wrote about skin disorders that included “pustules” and “comedones,” both of which are symptoms of acne. Roman historian Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD) also wrote about a condition called “acnae” that affected young men.

Medieval Times

During the Middle Ages in Europe (5th to 15th century), there was little advancement in medicine or hygiene. As a result, skin conditions like acne were common among people of all ages and social classes. However, there are few written records from this era that specifically mention acne.

Renaissance Period

The Renaissance period (14th to 17th century) saw a renewed interest in science and medicine. Italian physician Giovanni Battista Morgagni (1682-1771) was one of the first to describe acne as a disease with distinct symptoms. He noted that it was more common among young people than older adults.

Modern Era

In the 19th century, French dermatologist Jean-Louis Alibert (1768-1837) coined the term “acne vulgaris” to describe the skin condition. He also classified acne into different categories based on its severity.

In the 20th century, researchers discovered that acne is caused by a combination of factors, including hormonal changes, bacteria, and genetics. This led to the development of new treatments such as antibiotics, retinoids, and birth control pills.


In conclusion, acne has been present throughout history and has affected people of all ages and cultures. While our understanding of the condition has improved over time, there is still much to learn about its causes and treatments. If you are struggling with acne, it is important to seek medical advice from a dermatologist who can provide personalized treatment options.