Acne is a good thing. Really. It is. Do you have your doubts? Let’s face it, for many of us there was a point somewhere in our past when you were getting ready for a date, or for a school picture or a dance, and that dreaded zit reared its mighty head… and usually in the worst spot. Why is it that acne seems to sense when a big occasion is about to happen and always seems to show up on the tip of the nose or in the middle of your forehead? There it is, all big and red and shiny, and it ends up ruining your entire day.
And now some scientists are trying to tell us that that acne breakout was a good thing?
Okay. Here’s why. A new study from the Journal of Investigative Dermatology – yeah, that’s a thing in case you didn’t know – found that individuals who have acne actually have younger skin… at least in relation to individuals that don’t have to deal with acne. When they say “younger skin,” they don’t mean that the skin just looks younger, they mean that it is actually younger on a cellular level.
But how do they know that? Scientists measure the age of cells via telomeres, which are parts of nucleotides that are located on the end of your chromosomes. Those telomeres shorten as you get older and are a basic component to the physical signs of aging in a human being. Here is where acne comes in. In some people, these telomeres shorten faster than they do in other people, and guess what? Those are the people that aren’t getting acne in their teens and twenties.
The lead author of the acne paper in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, Dr. Simone Ribero, is a dermatologist at King’s College of London. Dr. Ribero stated that dermatologists “have identified that the skin of acne sufferers appears to age more slowly than in those who have not experienced any acne in their lifetime” for years, but up until now, no one knew why.
So how did they figure all of this out? The acne study utilized blood and skin samples from 1,205 twins. It was then determined that between each set of twins, the one with acne was much more likely to have longer telomeres than their corresponding twin. The twin who did suffer from acne not only appeared to have much younger skin than their twin brother or sister, but their skin was also found to be “younger” at the cellular level. It was also determined that this “young” form of acne that some people have and some people don’t, is also passed on from your parent(s). That’s right, this “young” form of acne is hereditary. The genes that pass on this acne apparently do so as a sort of anti-aging defense mechanism, of which, acne just seems to be a side effect.
This hereditary acne can actually linger well into adulthood, and can be ridiculously hard to get rid of. However the researchers said that that doesn’t mean that it is just something you’ll have to live with. In fact, once you do find the solution to getting rid of that hereditary acne, your skin will look far smoother – and younger – than the skin of someone who never had to deal with all those zits. The researchers say that if you are dealing with stubborn acne, especially as an adult, you should consult a dermatologist for help as there are now an extremely wide range of medicines and cutting-edge alternative treatments to help you out.
Okay, but herein lies the rub. The “young” skin rule when it comes to this hereditary kind of acne does not hold true with environmental acne. If you have acne as a result of poor hygiene, or acne as a result of excessive makeup use or eating certain types of foods… well, that’s your own fault, and the acne you have doesn’t mean your skin is any younger.
[Feature Image by George Marks/Getty Images]