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With Acne, Bacteria Strain on Your Skin May Be Culprit
Date:2/28/2013

By Barbara Bronson Gray
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Feb. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Your odds of having acne may depend on whether the "good" strain of a particular type of bacteria lives on your skin, a new study suggests.

"People never think of wanting to have good bacteria on their skin," said lead author Huiying Li, an assistant professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at the University of California, Los Angeles. "But some of them you should love." It's the presence of acne-defeating bacteria that allows people without acne to live relatively pimple-free, she explained.

Li and her team studied the bacterial strains on people's faces using genomic analysis of microbial DNA. They discovered that the bacteria responsible for acne -- called Propionibacterium acnes or P. acnes -- are more complex than previously understood.

When studied at the genomic level, bacteria with the same name were actually representative of three different strains. People with acne tend to have one or two of the strains associated with the condition, while those with healthy skin have a good strain that seems to destroy offending bacteria.

So whether or not you develop acne may be tied to what strain of P. acnes your skin carries.

The strain of P. acnes that is associated with healthy skin works much like the way live bacteria in yogurt help defend the intestines from harmful bacteria, Li said.

"Our next step will be to explore whether a probiotic cream might block bad bacteria from invading the skin, preventing pimples before they start," Li said. She hopes to find a way to transplant the good strain of bacteria that is plentiful on the faces of people with healthy skin to those with acne.

Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States, affecting 40 to 50 million people -- primarily teens and young adults -- but it can strike at any age, according to the A
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