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Red Wine Treats Acne Too?! Well, Sort Of...

Oct 06, 2014 06:00 PM EDT
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Red wine seems to be the wonder drink of the modern age. It helps us live longer, lowers the risk of depression, and even fights cavities. Some have even argued that resveratrol, a compound commonly found in red wine, may even protect against developing cancer.

Now, a new study is suggesting that that same compound, derived from red grapes, may be an effective treatment for acne.

We are all pretty familiar with acne and likely know someone who has suffered from a more serious and difficult-to-treat version of the bothersome skin condition. In fact, acne affects 85 percent of all Americans at some point in their lives, and 40 percent of all adolescents will seek treatment or recommendations from a professional during their mid-teens, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Now, a team of experts recently set out to investigate if the beneficial antioxidant naturally found in red grapes, called resveratrol, can treat acne and even improve upon existing treatments for persistent and serious acne conditions.

According to a study recently published in the journal Dermatology Therapy, resveratrol has long been known to effectively prevent free radicals from forming. It was suspected that this beneficial characteristic of the compound may make it useful at fighting acne, but the idea had never been tested until now.

Researchers applied resveratrol to bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes. Acne is traditionally caused when these bacteria boom in population, swimming in oil which has been released by hair follicles trapped under the skin. Benzoyl peroxide, a common type of acne treatment, was also used. The effects of these treatments were assessed for 10 days.

Both were found to effectively kill P. acnes, but resveratrol's effects were found to last twice as long as the peroxide's (about 48 hours total). Still, a heavy concentration of the compound was required.

When these two treatments were combined, however, they complemented one another, killing bacteria after just one treatment for more than two days when applied even in concentrations.

"We initially thought that since actions of the two compounds are opposing, the combination should cancel the other out, but they didn't," first author Emma Taylor said in a statement.

"It was like combining the best of both worlds and offering a two-pronged attack on the bacteria," added senior author Jenny Kim.

It should be added that this treatment was done with a topical application, so unlike with other potential benefits of resveratrol, drinking wine won't help.

Still, the researchers hope to continue their testing, validating these findings in human trials and potentially leading to new and extra-effective acne treatments.

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