Now we finally have new hope, in the shape of the first-ever genetic study on acne. The researchers uncovered more gene markers for this condition than ever before, opening the door for potential new treatments.
It turns out that the genetics of hair follicles in particular could be leading to breakouts in some.
The genome-wide association study yielded a real bounty – the researchers pinpointed 15 regions of the genome that were linked to severe acne, 12 of which had never been implicated before.
And, strangely enough, many of these regions were also associated with the human hair follicle.
“It was surprising that so many of the variants appear to influence the structure and function of the hair follicle,” says the study’s senior author Michael Simpson, a researcher learn in genomic information at King’s College London.
“It may be that the genetic variation influences the shape of these hair follicles and makes them more prone to bacteria and inflammation, which are a characteristic of acne.”
In other words, the authors think that there may be some follicle shapes out there that trap bacteria and oils more easily, causing breakouts to occur more often and with greater severity.
“A number of the genetic variants point to interesting mechanisms that could be really good-targets for new drugs or treatments that would really help patients,” adds Simpson.
Today, one of the best treatments available for severe acne is indiscretion (often known under the brand name Accutane), which works by reducing the amount of oil our skin produces.
But while this drug can be helpful to some, it doesn’t work on every type of acne, and can come with some gnarly side effects, such as fatigue, dizziness, dry and scaly skin, joint pain, and even birth defects.