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Healthy Skin Shown to Allow Bacteria

Posted: October 21, 2008

In a new study, researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark found bacteria in the follicles of acne patients and healthy individuals to be those of previously known species, disputing the theory that acne is caused by some yet-to-be-identified bacteria. They reported their findings in the October 2008 issue of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.

Affecting up to 80% of teenagers as well as some adults, acne not only causes clinical problems but also severe social, psychological and emotional issues. Prominently attributed to the bacterium Propionibacterium acnes due to a large increase in colonization density at puberty, some research suggests that P. acnes may only be responsible for inflammation rather than the true cause of infection.

In the study, researchers collected bacteria from the follicles of acne patients and healthy individuals, as well as superficial skin samples from acne patients and tested for yet-uncultured species. Only P. acnes was found in the follicles of healthy patients, whereas P. acnes as well as Staphylococcus epidermidis and other species of limited complexity were identified in acne patients.

Superficial skin samples showed a more diverse microbial presence of 12 to 16 bacterial species. "The findings of the study exclude the possibility that acne is associated with yet-uncultured bacteria and shows that healthy skin follicles constitute a remarkably exclusive habitat allowing colonization only by P. acnes," say the researchers.

Journal reference: M. Bek-Thomsen, H.B. Lomholt, M. Kilian. "Acne is Not Associated with Yet-Uncultured Bacteria," Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 2008; 46 (10)