Germ community, rather than just one species, may be key, new research suggests

April 06, 2017

WEDNESDAY, April 5, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- An unbalanced population of bacteria on the skin may play a major role in acne, according to a new, small study.

Up to 85 percent of people develop acne, a disease of hair follicles on the skin, but its exact causes are unclear. One specific type of bacteria has long been suspected, but this study suggests the presence or absence of one particular strain is less important than the overall balance of bacteria on the skin.

Researchers analyzed DNA from skin follicle samples of 38 people with acne and 34 without the condition. The investigators then confirmed their findings with 10 more volunteers.

The results suggest "that the make-up of the bacteria in the follicles can reflect, as well as influence, the skin condition in acne or healthy skin," study leader Huiying Li said in a news release from the Microbiology Society. Li is an associate professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Study co-author Emma Barnard said understanding the bacterial community on the skin is important to developing personalized acne treatments.

"Instead of killing all bacteria, including the beneficial ones, we should focus on shifting the balance toward a healthy microbiota by targeting harmful bacteria or enriching beneficial bacteria," she said in the news release. Barnard is a researcher in UCLA's department of molecular and medical pharmacology.

The study was to be presented Wednesday at the annual meeting of the Microbiology Society, in Edinburgh, Scotland, and is also published in the journal Scientific Reports.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases has more on acne.

You May Like