In recent years, research has proven that having “good bacteria” in our digestive systems has far-reaching benefits for our health (thus, the probiotic supplement fad was born). But a new study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology says that having the right bacteria on our skin could have huge benefits, too; especially for anyone who suffers blemishes, pimples, breakouts or acne.
Huiying Li, of UCLA’s department of molecular and medical pharmacology, led a team of researchers in studying the bacteria that causes acne and breakouts. Initially, she hoped to find different species of bacteria in the skin of clear-skinned subjects vs. subjects with problem skin. But they found that Propionibacterium acnes (or P. acnes)–the bacteria associated with teenage acne and most breakouts–is the dominant microbe found in everyone’s pores; even in people who don’t suffer breakouts, it comprises 90% of the bacteria in most peoples’ pores.
But then they mapped out the gene sequences of the P. acnes collected from various subjects, and found something interesting: There were two dominant strains found in people who suffered acne breakouts, and one dominant strain found in those with clear skin. So there could be “good bacteria” and “bad bacteria” for our faces, as well as our stomachs:
“So we are really excited because potentially there is a good guy that protects the skin from getting acne,” says Li. “That means there could be a simple cream or lotion with the good strain added that can stop pimples from developing before they even start.”
It might be awhile before we start seeing drugs that target specific strains of ‘good bacteria’ or ‘bad bacteria, but probiotics for the skin could be the next big acne treatment.