OK, so zits aren’t exactly the most pressing issue in the medical community, but nobody enjoys them and they are painful and uncomfortable. Fortunately, some of the bacteria that cause acne can apparently be recruited to the side of clear skin and peer approval.
The microorganism in question, Propionibacterium acnes, is actually a common part of the flora that live on your face. It’s essentially the clean-up crew: It eats the detritus your skin leaves behind. As you may have guessed, if there’s too much detritus, P. acnes gets a bit rowdy and spreads its digestive enzymes everywhere, damaging the skin and well, yeah.
But it turns out that some strains of the little monsters can keep the rowdier ones in line, Swayze style:
Researchers sequenced the genomes of 66 of the more than 1,000 P. acnes strains identified, focusing their attention on genes unique to each strain.
The team discovered one strain of P. acnes that was common on healthy skin but rarely found on skin with acne. Researchers suspect the strain associated with clear skin may have a natural defense mechanism that destroys other, less desirable strains before they can cause inflammation
Sadly, there are no reports of bacterium ripping out each other throats, because they don’t have throats. They did drive a little monster truck through a car dealership, though, so we stand by the Swayze claim.
Anyway, if this discovery holds up, then preventing zits might soon be as simple as slapping on a probiotic cream and letting the good P. acnes clean house. Meanwhile, scientists are trying to figure out how to turn it into something you have to pay thirty bucks a month to a company forever to actually use.