Why does acne affect some people and not others?

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Although 80% of us will have been affected by acne at one moment or another, scientists still don’t really know what causes this condition and above all how to stop it.  A recent study has shone a little more light onto the problem of acne and this discovery could lead to new treatments. 

Everyone is afraid of getting acne.  Although 80% of us will have had acne at one point in our life, our skin is not always affected in the same way.  A new study has recently discovered that skin bacteria only cause inflammation for some people and not others.  This could lead to the development of new acne treatment in around 2 to 5 years time.  Currently there are only treatments available for severe acne, which are more or less successful but which do have side affects.

Richard Gallo’s team from the University of California, USA have discovered why some people never manage to get rid of acne while others manage to clear their skin.  According to these researchers, inflammation and spots are caused by a bacteria which gets trapped in oily conditions and is suffocated by hair follicles. However we haven’t all got the same hair follicles, as some people’s follicles are more suffocating than others.  This explains why acne arises but is also highlights another way in which bacteria can bring about inflammation.

These researchers have focused on the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes that everyone carries, but depending on the person does not always cause acne. So as to understand what was happening, the researchers tested this bacteria on mice with a variety of skin conditions.  They found that when this bacteria is trapped in airless environments alongside hair cells and skin, it turns sebum into fatty acids that activate inflammation in nearby skin cells.

We can inhibit these fatty acids or block their impact on the skin. We are working on how to do it … this could lead to new drugs in two or five years, “says Richard Gallo in the study published in the journal Science Inflammation..


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