Teens with spots tend to stay looking younger for longer, new research suggests

By Anna Collinson
Newsbeat reporter

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If you're a teenager who has acne, it can feel like the end of the world. But your adult self may thank you for it.

New research from King's College London, based on 1,205 female twins, suggests adolescents with spots tend to stay looking youthful for longer, compared to peers with "perfect skin".

Experts claim it's because people with acne have a built-in protection against ageing.

That means things like wrinkles and thinning skin often appear later.


This study has taken a look at white blood cells taken from acne sufferers and found they had longer protective caps on the ends of their chromosomes (a strand of DNA encoded with genes).

These caps are called telomeres and are like the plastic tips on shoe laces which stop them from becoming frayed.

image copyrightThinkstock

This prevents chromosomes from deteriorating.

Telomeres shrink over time and people with long ones tend to age more slowly than those with short ones.

The conclusion? Teenagers who have spots are more likely to look youthful for longer.

The science part

In the King's College study, a quarter of the female twins who took part in the research had acne.

Analysis of skin samples highlighted a gene pathway called p53 which regulates the death of cells.

This can be triggered when telomeres become too short.

However, the p53 pathway was found to be less active in the skin of acne sufferers.

image copyrightThinkstock

What the experts say

For a long time dermatologists have known that the skin of people with acne appears to age more slowly, but until now they weren't sure why.

"Our findings suggest the cause could be linked to the length of telomeres which appears to be different in acne sufferers and means their cells may be protected against ageing," explains lead researcher Dr Simone Ribero from King's College London.

Co-author Dr Veronique Bataille said: "Longer telomeres are likely to be one factor explaining the protection against premature skin ageing in individuals who previously suffered from acne."

The researchers say more investigations are needed.

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