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Pediatr Dermatol. 2019 Jan 18. doi: 10.1111/pde.13741. [Epub ahead of print]

The microbiome in preadolescent acne: Assessment and prospective analysis of the influence of benzoyl peroxide.

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Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Dermatology, Rady Children's Hospital, San Diego, California.
Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Dermatology, University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, La Jolla, California.
ProdermIQ, Inc, San Diego, California.



The pathogenesis of preadolescent acne has not been well studied, and it is uncertain if Cutibacterium acnes is a predominant organism in the microbiome in this age group. The aim of this study was to analyze the microbiome of preadolescent females and to assess whether benzoyl peroxide impacts the microbiome.


The study enrolled girls, aged 7-12 years, with evidence of at least six acne lesions who had not been previously treated. Participants' skin surface of forehead, cheeks, nose, chin, left retroauricular crease, and extruded contents of a comedonal lesion were sampled at baseline. Participants used benzoyl peroxide 4% wash for 6-8 weeks and returned for skin surface sampling and extraction collection. Microbiome analysis was performed using 16S ribosomal RNA gene amplicon sequencing on all swab and lesional extraction samples.


Fifty-one participants were enrolled with a median IGA score of 2 (mild). Changes in microbiome diversity were associated with increasing age and number of acne lesions (P = 0.001). C. acnes had higher abundances on forehead and nose, as opposed to cheeks and chin (P = 0.009). Bacterial diversity (alpha diversity) of the skin microbiome was comparable between preadolescent at baseline and after treatment with benzoyl peroxide.


This is the first large assessment characterizing female acne microbiome in early and late preadolescence. Results show that preadolescent acne can vary in its microbial profile, reflecting surrounding changes associated with the onset of puberty. Although benzoyl peroxide use was associated with decreased acne counts, its effect on microbial diversity was not demonstrated in our study.


Cutibacterium acnes ; Propionibacterium acnes ; Streptococcus mitis ; acne; benzoyl peroxide; microbiome; preadolescent


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