Researchers discovered what influences the amount of acne on a person’s skin. It is not the lack or the abundance of bacteria, but rather their balance on the skin. Researchers will present this study at the Annual Conference of the Microbiology Society.
What causes acne?
Acne vulgaris is widespread among people, as around 85 percent of them experience it at least once in their lifetime. This condition affects the hair follicles on the skin, but researchers have not identified a clear cause yet. Some suggested that Propionibacterium acnes is the responsible one.
However, these bacteria are present in all individuals, even if they have acne or not, and it the most prevalent species on the skin. Thus, researchers could not understand the role it plays in the development of acne.
The study was conducted by Dr. Huiying Li, professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He and his colleagues collected samples of skin follicles from 72 people. Thirty-eight of these people had acne, while the others had a healthy skin. Then, they analyzed the bacterial composition of the samples from each group and compared them.
Comparing healthy skin with acne-affected skin
Thus, they observed what differences split the acne group from the acne group. More precisely, they noticed that the Propionibacterium acnes had different genetic properties in each group. The bacteria from the healthy people’s skin played a more important role in bacterial metabolism. This means that they can keep harmful microorganisms from affecting the skin.
The Propionibacterium acnes from the acne people was of a different kind, namely it contained viral genes. These allow for the formation of toxins which gather into colonies on the skin and lead to the inflammation of the follicles. After looking at these differences, researchers could pinpoint with accuracy which samples belonged to healthy and which belonged to unhealthy groups.
This discovery offers new options of treatment which might be more effective. Instead of using antibiotics and killing all bacteria, harmful or beneficial, does not solve the problem. If doctors chose to control the bacteria on the skin and keep them at balance, they might obtain better results.
A personalized treatment is not only better for the patient, but it is also healthier. Instead of killing all bacteria, these treatments seek to regulate the bacterial amount on the skin by keeping the good ones and letting them do their job. The study was published in the Nature journal and it can be found here.
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