Acne Could Be Caused by Skin Bacteria

A new study from the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) claims that acne could be caused due to imbalances in skin bacteria as opposed to by a specific strain of bacteria.



Acne is a skin disease that usually occurs during puberty. It is inflammatory and results in the appearance of blackheads (black and on surface of skin) , whiteheads (small and under the skin) and more types of pimples. About three-quarters of 11 – 30 year-olds get acne at some point and it can even be linked to the genes. Usually the most affected areas of the body due to acne include the face, neck, chest, shoulders and back due to there being more sebaceous glands in these areas (the areas are more oily which clogs the pores).

Propionibacterium acnes or, P. acnes for short, is a bacterium that contributes heavily to acne development, however it is not the only bacterium that does this as P.acnes is abundant in individuals with and without acne. The bacterium formed the basis of the study by studying the skin follicles of 38 people with acne and 34 people without acne through DNA shotgun sequencing (‘Shotgun sequencing involves randomly breaking up DNA sequences into lots of small pieces and then reassembling the sequence by looking for regions of overlap’). Through this search, it was found that the difference between people with acne and without acne was in the strains of P. acnes. Whats more, ‘adults with acne had higher levels of virulence-related genes in P. acnes, the team reports. These included genes linked to the production of bacterial toxins that promote inflammation and poor skin health.’

Dr Li,  the study leader, said this:

“This study suggests that the makeup of the bacteria in the follicles can reflect, as well as influence, the skin condition in acne or healthy skin,”

From these findings, the researchers hope to encourage the use of personalised ace treatment based on specific conditions and intensities of acne and the imbalance of the skin bacteria. The team believe that for accurate and successful treatments to be brought out to the public, it is very important to fully understand the bacteria related to acne. One possible method of treatment could be through the use of probiotics that target the harmful bacteria and encourage the produce of beneficial bacteria to restore the balance between skin bacteria. This way, there will be no need to kill all the bacteria on the skin as the beneficial ones can provide a guide of the type of bacteria that is wanted on the skin.

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