Propionibacterium acnes is slow growing bacteria that is known to cause acne. It is commonly present on all human skin and is rarely detected on skin before puberty. It lives on fatty acids and oil secreted by sebaceous glands. Since the bacteria is responsible for a large majority of acne cases, it is essential to understand ways to get rid of it.
Causes Of Acne
Before a person can understand what causes acne, it is essential to comprehend the structure of the skin. Each skin unit contains sebaceous glands, hair follicles, and sebum. Hair and extra oil block hair follicles. The blockage does not allow the oil to exit the skin’s pores. The blockage also draws P acnes bacteria to grow in the follicles as well. As bacteria produces chemicals, white blood cells are drawn to fight infection which leads to inflammation and swelling. The follicles eventually break open and spill into surrounding skin. The result is a breakout of acne.
There is no one reason for acne. However, many factors contribute to the condition:
- Genetics: Acne tends to run in families, so when relatives have the condition, so do many other family members.
- Hormones: Any period in life when a person’s hormones become unbalanced will cause acne to occur. Puberty, pregnancy, and menopause are often the times in life when acne is heightened. During these times, the make hormone androgen leads to the overproduction of oil that causes acne.
- Medicine: Certain prescription medication is known to cause acne. The most common drugs including lithium, androgens, barbituates, or amphetamines can cause acne formation.
- P. Acnes Bacteria: When bacteria accumulates in skin pores, acne will occur.
Effective Treatments For P. Acnes
Most P. Acnes are treated with topical antibiotics.
- Clindamycin: This is the most common topical antibiotic prescribed to fight acne. It is available in 1% strength and must be applied two times each day. It is tolerated by most people, but may sometimes cause a bit of irritation.
- Erythromycin: This is also a common topical treatment for acne. It is usually prescribed in 2% strength and should be applied twice daily. It is well tolerated and can even be used by pregnant women.
- Tetracycline: This is an alternative topical treatment that is available in different strengths. It includes sodium bisulfite which is known to cause an allergic reaction or yellowing of the skin.
- Metronidazole: This is a topical treatment most commonly prescribed for people with acne rosacea. It is available in .75% strength and can be applied one or two times each day. It is well tolerated, but can lead to mild skin irritation.
Oral Treatments For Acne
Oral antibiotics are also used to treat acne.
- Tetracycline: This is the most popular oral antibiotic for acne. It must be taken without food and should not be used by pregnant women.
- Erythromycin: This antibiotic has numerous benefits over tetracycline. It lowers redness with anti inflammatory properties and also kills P. acnes. It should be taken with food, but can lead to nausea. It cannot be taken by pregnant women.
- Minocycline: A derivative of tetracycline, it is most commonly used to treat pustular acne. With long term use, the side effects may include changes in teeth and the skin.
- Doxycycline: This drug is used for people whose acne does not respond to other antibiotics. It should be taken with food and may cause sensitivity to sunlight.
All acne can be ugly and embarrassing. There are many products, both prescription and over the counter remedies, that treat acne. However, finding a solution which gets rid of propionibacterium acnes is the first step in alleviating the problem.