The idea of an acne vaccine almost sounds like it belongs in the opening pages of a utopian science fiction novel—especially for anyone who’s battled every variety from hormonal to cystic, and dealt with skin-shaming since middle school days. According to a recent study published in Journal of Investigative Dermatology, though, the condition could soon be not just treatable but preventable (yes, really).
The vaccine, which just underwent preliminary testing on mice and human skin cells, works by releasing antibodies that target an inflammation-causing (and thus acne-causing) bacteria (known as Christie-Atkins-Munch-Peterson or CAMPs) that exist in human skin cells, reports Science Daily. So unlike current acne-dotes, like retinoids, the vaccine could herald a zit-free future—without the complexion-damaging side effects of current topicals like dryness, skin irritation, and scarring.
Chun-Ming Huang, PhD, who’s part of the Department of Dermatology at UCSD, adds that the benefits go way beyond skin deep. Sure, pimples may show up on your T-zone, cheeks, and back, but they also wreak havoc on our mental health and self-esteem beginning in early adolescence.
“Current treatment options are often not effective or tolerable for many of the 85 percent of adolescents and more than 40 million adults in the United States who suffer from this multi-factorial cutaneous inflammatory condition [like acne],” says Dr. Huang. “New, safe, and efficient therapies are sorely needed.” First, though, the skin expert says the vaccine will need to stand the test of a large-scale clinical trial—but the results of this preliminary research are encouraging.
For now though, just remember that everyone—including the Biebs—deals with a breakout now and then. And really, working through each one with patience is just one more way to practice self-love.
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