According to the American Academy of Dermatology, almost all teens have breakouts of acne. The reason acne appears during the teen years is because of the hormones that stimulate the skin’s oil glands. For many teens, the appearance of pimples, or zits, on their face makes them feel unhappy and self-conscious. Most of the anti acne tools teens use including benzoyl peroxide, antibiotics and Accutane haven’t changed in decades. Dermatologists have found that most severe cases of acne don't respond well to antibiotics, and Accutane can produce serious side effects. Also, teens who are upset about the state of their skin may use topical medications to excess in an attempt to speed clearing, and instead actually increase healing time.
A new study, just released in the February 28 edition of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, could lead to new therapies to prevent and treat acne. The UCLA study conducted with researchers at Washington University in St. Louis and the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute has discovered that acne bacteria contain "bad" strains associated with pimples and "good" strains that may protect the skin.
The researchers, using over the counter pore cleansing strips, sampled bacteria from the noses of 101 people, 49 of whom had acne and 52 who did not. They examined the bacterial DNA, looking for patterns or variations in the microbes’ genes that would help them identify specific strains of bacteria.
"We were interested to learn that the bacterial strains looked very different when taken from diseased skin, compared to healthy skin," said co-author Dr. Noah Craft, a dermatologist and director of the Center for Immunotherapeutics Research at LABioMed at Harbor–UCLA Medical Center. "Two unique strains of P. acnes appeared in one out of five volunteers with acne but rarely occurred in clear-skinned people." "We were extremely excited to uncover a third strain of P. acnes that's common in healthy skin yet rarely found when acne is present." The researchers “suspect that this strain contains a natural defense mechanism that enables it to recognize attackers and destroy them before they infect the bacterial cell."
The researchers also believe that increasing the body’s friendly strain of P.acnes through the use of a simple cream or lotion may help calm spotty complexions. P.acnes strain may protect the skin, much like probiotics help protect the stomach.
Additional studies will focus on exploring new drugs that kill bad strains of P.acnes while preserving the good ones; the use of viruses to kill acne-related bacteria; and a simple skin test to predict whether a person will develop aggressive acne in the future.