Acne treatment Acne treatment

Acne Causing Bacteria

Acne Causing Bacteria Acne Causing Bacteria Acne Causing Bacteria


Acne is a common skin condition associated with the bacteria species Proprionibacterium acnes. In theory, the presence of P. acnes and other bacteria species--in combination with several additional factors--is responsible for skin inflammation and other acne-related effects. However, scientists do not fully understand bacteria's role in acne formation, and the presence of bacteria does not determine the severity of acne symptoms.

Acne Basics

Your skin contains a vast number of tiny openings called pores, according to MedlinePlus. Each pore leads to a hair follicle, which houses a single strand of hair and an associated gland that produces a lubricating oil called sebum. When your oil glands produce too much sebum, the excess oil can clog your pores and trap old skin cells and dirt in your pores' interiors. Excess skin oil can also trap bacteria. This combination of factors can lead to acne-related skin inflammation and the development of acne lesions.

Bacteria Basics

Everyone has P. acnes bacteria on their skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. The New Zealand Dermatological Society lists additional common skin bacteria species that include Proprionibacterium granulosum and Staphylococcus epidermis. During puberty, a common time for acne formation, these bacteria form on your skin in increasing numbers. The biological activity and overall numbers of these bacteria vary according to several factors, including the available supplies of nutrients and oxygen, as well as your skin's pH, or relative level of acidity or alkalinity.

Bacterial Effects

The exact role of bacteria in acne formation is unknown, the New Zealand Dermatological Society reports. On one hand, P. acnes bacteria on your skin can potentially influence your acne by producing several substances capable of triggering inflammation or other acne-related changes. On the other hand, if you have acne, the severity of your symptoms is typically unrelated to the number of bacteria present on your skin. Additionally, symptom severity does not correlate to the number of bacteria present in your sebaceous ducts, which channel sebum from your oil glands to your hair follicles.

Additional Factors

In addition to bacterial activity, MedlinePlus notes several factors that may influence acne formation on your skin. These include genetic predisposition; the use of oily or greasy hair products or cosmetics; the use of medications, such as testosterone, steroids, phenytoin or estrogen; living in a high-humidity environment; and sweating. You may also experience acne triggered by hormonal fluctuations associated with stress, pregnancy, your menstrual cycle or the use of birth control pills.

Antibacterial Medications

If you have acne, your doctor may recommend the use of nonprescription medications to kill skin bacteria, MedlinePlus notes. Active ingredients in these products may include salicylic acid, resorcinol, benzoyl peroxide or sulfur. If you have more serious acne symptoms, your doctor may also recommend prescription-strength forms of these medications. Alternatively, he may prescribe bacteria-killing medications called antibiotics. Oral antibiotics used for acne treatment include tetracycline, erythromycin and doxycycline. Topical antibiotics used for acne treatment include dapsone and clindamycin.

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