Acne is probably the most common skin problem, affecting 75% of people at some point in their lives. For many young people it is an aesthetic and self-esteem issue of the first order. A new patent based on natural substances could prove to be a very effective treatment.
Acne is treated using various kinds of active ingredients, ranging from chemicals to antibiotics and including isotretinoin, the most effective treatment, although it must be taken under medical supervision. Scientists at the University of Granada have created a formula that is applied topically, does not meet with bacterial resistance and has no side effects. Its main ingredient is a cyclic protein of 70 amino acids called AS-48. The formula is active against various pathogenic bacteria of the skin, including the Propionibacterium acnes bacterium responsible for acne. The scientists hope that their formula, which contains only natural substances with antibacterial activity, will soon become a basic cosmetic and pharmaceutical ingredient for the treatment and prevention of acne.
Our skin is covered by a huge variety of bacteria, fungi and viruses living in perfect harmony and constituting the skin’s microbiota, also called skin’s flora. New research reveals just how numerous are the species of fungi that colonize our skin and help it stay healthy and look good.
Almost everyone knows that our digestive system requires the presence of microorganisms in order to process food. Similarly, the skin’s own ecosystem needs beneficial germs to remain healthy. A recent genetic study conducted in the USA and published in Nature describes for the first time the 80 types of fungi that normally live on our skin. The areas where most species are found are our heels – and feet in general – while species are less abundant on the neck, back, ears and palms. This important finding has quadrupled the known number of types of fungal microbiota and will guide future research on the role of skin microorganisms. Furthermore, the study confirms the importance of respecting the balance of this ecosystem in order to keep our skin in the best possible condition. Remember: take short, tepid showers, and use soap, shower gels and moisturizers with a slightly acidic pH (between 4.7 and 5.5).
Our genes determine what our skin secretes in sweat and, consequently, how we smell. No two body odours are alike as we all have our own unique “cocktail” of bacteria that break down sweat to release volatile substances. But there are people who do not smell ... and they even use deodorant.
Our body odour develops when skin bacteria degrade certain substances produced by the sweat glands: steroid hormones, fatty acids and sulphur compounds. Our genetic characteristics determine the amount and proportion of each such substance secreted and, consequently, differences in how we smell. However, in a recent UK study of 6 500 women it was found that 2% had virtually no smell because of their particular version of the ABCC11 gene. However, over 75% of these women used underarm deodorant – out of habit. Identifying this genetic trait could lead to odourless people both saving money and reducing their exposure to chemicals. Such studies also open the way for the future application of genetics to the field of personal hygiene.
Acne is not dangerous, but it affects three quarters of the population worldwide, most especially individuals between 11 and 30 years of age, for whom it is a serious aesthetic problem. Current treatments are of limited effectiveness. But soon we may have more effective solutions.
Acne is an inflammatory disorder which originates in the overproduction of sebum (oil) by the sebaceous glands of the skin. The sebum blocks the hair follicles, which eventually become infected. The cause of this infection is the bacterium Propionibacterium acnes. Read More