The Loh Down On Science

Science may finally know what causes pimples

Do bacteria cause pimples or prevent pimples?  Which is it?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying it's probably both.  

Meet Propionibacterium acnesP.  acnes to its friends.  This microbe has long been associated with breakouts.  What's puzzling? It can be equally ample in the pores of people without acne.  What's the deal?

UCLA microbiologists may know.  

They asked roughly one hundred people to open their pores for science.  Half the group suffered from acne, the other half had clear skin.

Everyone applied an ordinary pore-cleansing strip to their nose.  The biologists then analyzed the bacteria that came away.

And?  Turns out everyone had lots of P. acnes.  Oh, no!  Back to square one?  Luckily not.  Careful DNA sequencing revealed something more: people with acne had different strains of P. acnes than people with clear skin.

So it looks like the same bacterium has both beneficial and harmful strains.

Thus, the pimple prone among us need only rub noses with the cute and clear-skinned!  That’s my hope.
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The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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