Cutibacterium acnes is the new name for the acne-causing germ Propionibacterium acnes, or P. acnes for short.
So, if you have acne, it is C. acnes, not P. acnes, that you need to know about now!
Why has the name changed for the bacteria that causes acne?
Microbiologists periodically rename microbial germs as they develop more precise tools to better understand differences and similarities between species.
C. acnes (formerly P. acnes) is known to play a role in the common form of acne called acne vulgaris. People with oily skin have a higher amount of C. acnes in their pores, especially on the head, upper back and chest.
C. acnes bacteria can increase in number in your pores if your skin is really oily. This can lead to pimples and blackheads.
The most effective anti-acne products that you can apply to your skin for reducing Cutibacterium acnes (formerly P. acnes) are ones with benzoyl peroxide.
We know that topical prescription acne treatment products with antibiotics are not as effective as benzoyl peroxide, because this germ mutates and develops resistance to traditional antibiotics. It also develops resistance to oral prescription antibiotics too, such as erythromycin, clindamycin, tetracycline, doxycycline and minocycline. Studies have shown that benzoyl peroxide does the job better at reducing C. acnes (P. acnes). This is good news because benzoyl peroxide is non-prescription.
You don’t need to go to your doctor to get the best products to treat acne.
You can use non-prescription benzoyl peroxide in the form of cleansers or lotions. If you are treating your acne on a large surface area, such as the chest and back (Bacne as many like to call it), I like the use of medicated cleansers because they are easy to apply.
Pro-tip: Know that benzoyl peroxide residue will bleach fabric so be certain to wear white fabric on any part of your skin that is under or near the benzoyl peroxide treatment area! Dr. Bailey
I know that back and chest acne often involves another skin microbe called Pityrosporum. I have my back and chest acne patients alternate their benzoyl peroxide cleanser with a pyrithione zinc cleanser to fight the Pityrosporum yeast.
This is the active ingredient in Foaming Zinc Cleanser. Foaming Zinc contains the highest amount of pyrithione zinc, which is a full 2%. This is a strong and highly effective product for back acne.
Foaming Zinc Cleanser™ works well to fight back, body and scalp acne and also treats scalp dandruff when used as a shampoo.
I have people treat back and body acne by applying these 2 cleansers with a Salux Cloth to help exfoliate, enhance ingredient penetration into pores, and smooth-out acne-prone skin. These 3 products make up my popular Back Acne Kit.
What is the best benzoyl peroxide product to treat C. acnes on the face?
Facial C. acnes (formerly P. acnes) can be easily treated with benzoyl peroxide cream. And, you don't need really strong benzoyl peroxide cream to treat acne.
All benzoyl peroxide strength's over 2.5% kill Cutibacterium acnes equally well to treat acne!
It's counterintuitive but true. Why this is important is because over 2.5% benzoyl peroxide is irritating to the skin of many people. Benzoyl peroxide products can contain is much as 10%, which is the maximal allowed level.
Pro-tip: You don't need 10% benzoyl peroxide to kill Cutibacterium and strong benzoyl products will probably cause irritation and peeling of your skin if you use them every day. You don't need red and peeling skin to treat acne. Dr. Bailey
Benzoyl peroxide also kills C. acne better than prescription topical antibiotics because the bacteria has developed resistance to antibiotics. It has not developed resistance to benzoyl peroxide and probably never will.
How does benzoyl peroxide work against Cutibacterium acne to treat acne?
- Benzoyl peroxide works in a very simple way that bacteria can't outsmart. It adds oxygen in the pore and Cutibacterium bacteria don't live well in an oxygen-rich environment so they die.
- Benzoyl peroxide is also a keratolytic, meaning it helps keep pores unclogged so that bacteria don't flourish ensconced deeply behind pore clogging debris or a blackhead.
- Benzoyl peroxide is also anti-inflammatory to help reduce redness and tenderness in pimples.
What is the best benzoyl peroxide strength to kill acne?
- I use 10% in the Foaming Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Treatment Cleanser knowing that some benzoyl peroxide will be rinsed off.
- For a leave-on product, Benzoyl Peroxide Cream, 2.5% is the sweet spot between effective acne treatment and low risk of benzoyl peroxide skin irritation. I also have 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Cream for spot treatment of active pimples.
How can you make benzoyl peroxide work even better to treat facial acne?
Combine benzoyl peroxide with the pore cleaning ingredients salicylic acid and glycolic acid by using my Ultimate Acne Treatment Solutions Kit. These other 2 ingredients help to unclog clogged pores and treat blackheads, thus helping benzoyl peroxide penetrate fast to get deeply into pores where C. acnes lives. Salicylic acid is particularly powerful at penetrating oily pores. Glycolic acid is a highly effective keratolytic. The 3-ingredient combination works together to treat acne fast.
Pro-tip: We know that C. acnes lives deep in the pores gorging on the fatty acids in sebum and cellular debris of blackheads for nutrition and energy. It's a C. acnes banquet until we get benzoyl peroxide deeply into the pores of skin with acne. This is why I combine salicylic acid, glycolic acid and benzoyl peroxide together to treat acne fast with my Ultimate Acne Treatment Solutions Kit. Dermatologist Dr. Cynthia Bailey
The best skin care treatment for acne combines ingredients that unclog pores, penetrate deeply into the pore, and treat C. acnes (formerly P. acnes). My Ultimate Acne Treatment Kit does this.
So, P. acnes has a new name – C. acnes, it plays a role in causing acne on the oily areas of the face, back and chest. Treat it with my Back and Body Acne Kit and my Ultimate Acne Treatment Solutions Kit – physician level treatment for acne, based on what scientists and dermatologists know about treating acne.