Acne has probably been a teenage curse since humans first strolled along the African Savannah. People have tried soap and salves, astringents and antibiotics, medications and mudpacks, all in an effort to clear their skin.
Scientists now think they have found a secret weapon. Bacteria.
That‘s right. The answer to clear skin may lie, not in cleansing, diet or medication, but in obtaining the correct mixture of skin bacteria.
Propionibacterium acnes are bacteria that live in facial pores. There are over 50 different strains of these bacteria. Scientists knew they were associated with acne, but why the bacteria only caused acne in some people and in some areas was a mystery.
From Curse To Cure
A team of scientists at UCLA took a closer look. Using DNA analysis, they identified acne bacteria from the nasal skin of 49 people with acne, and 52 people without acne.
Sixty‑three strains were common in all the people. Three other strains caught the scientists‘ attention. Two "bad" strains seemed linked to acne. One was present in 70 percent of those with blemishes, and rare in people without acne. The other was present in 84 percent of the people with acne, and only present in 16 percent of those without.
A "good" bacteria strain was rare in people with acne, and was present in 20 of people without blemishes.
This suggested that the good strain of bacteria might be used as a probiotic to stop blemishes from occurring. In the future, teens may be able to spread the good bacteria over their skin in a cream or lotion to help reduce the numbers of bad bacteria.
"Propionibacterium acnes Strain Populations in the Human Skin Microbiome Associated with Acne" (Journal of Investigative Dermatology)