The germ is Propionibacterium acnes. Skin colonized by P. acnes tends to erupt into the blotches and pustules of acne. Since the 1960s, doctors have fought P. acnes with antibiotics. The bug fought back. It's now common to find P. acnes strains resistant to several common antibiotics.
Nord and colleagues took skin samples from 10 acne patients, all on antibiotic therapy, and from two close family contacts of each patient. Twelve healthy, acne-free volunteers -- who were not taking antibiotics and did not have family members with acne -- served as a comparison group.
The good news is that the family members fought off the drug-resistant germs -- but only after the acne patient in their family stopped using antibiotics.
Nord reported the findings at last week's 46th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, held Sept. 27-30 in San Francisco.
By Daniel DeNoon, WebMD, October 2, 2006