Anybody whose teen years (and, hell, early adult years, and maybe later adult years, too) were plagued by acne surely thinks, when glimpsing a present-day teen (or early or later adult) so plagued: “What, they can transplant entire faces and they haven’t cured acne yet?” In my brother’s teen years, back in the ’60s, the culprits were said to be dietary; our entire household ate uniodized salt and shunned tomatoes, French fries, chocolate and fish in hopes of clearing his complexion. (Love ya, Dave!) America also went through a period of hygiene-blaming: If you dumb kids would just wash your damned faces, that problem would clear up! Then came the antibiotics; then the big guns, like Accutane. And lasers! And light therapy! And still, there are zits.
Now comes word—cue ominous music—that the bacteria that cause acne, just like all bacteria everywhere, it seems, are becoming more and more resistant to antibiotics. Which is, like, a real problem, because acne treatments like the kind Katy Perry hawks aren’t, like, all that. What does work against acne can prove problematic—Accutane can cause depression and birth defects; lasers and light therapy are pricey and often aren’t covered by insurance.
So what are the speckled to do?
Never fear—in between figuring out how to transplant faces, scientists are sidestepping the resistant-antibiotic problem by attempting to convert a common, harmless virus that also lives on your skin into a bacteria killer. UCLA dermatologist Jenny Kim told NPR, “The virus is going to go and kill the bacteria that causes acne. It’s just going to break it apart and burst its membrane so there’s no time for the bacteria to mutate.” Whoa! My skin is a battleground, dude! Can we turn this into a video game?
Oh, and speaking of battles, check out the one in the first link’s comments section, as opinionated NPR’ers, um, face off on just what causes acne in the first place. Dairy? Meat? Corn? Wheat? Sugar? Cashews? Lots of geezer-theorizing going on.