A high-tech skin patch which produces an electric charge is being marketed as a new way to cure acne.
Results from a small test show that acne spots almost disappeared within three days. A more extensive 4-month study is currently underway to demonstrate the effect of short treatment with active OPLON patches on Acne. Around 100 people will wear the patches overnight or for around six hours.
The patch, which was developed by OPLON Pure Science, an Israel-based technology company operating from Shfela, Israel. Their website oplon.com has been inactive since 2008.
Acne is the most common type of skin condition, mainly affecting adolescents.
The condition is thought to be triggered by hormones which send sebaceous glands into overdrive.
These glands, found near the surface of the skin, are attached to hair follicles. Their purpose is to stop the hair from drying out, which they do by producing an oily substance called sebum. In acne sufferers, the glands produce too much sebum.
The excess mixes with skin cells to block the hair follicle. Bacteria that normally lives harmlessly on the skin can then infect the blocked follicles, resulting in the characteristic spots.
Traditional treatments include creams such as benzoyl peroxide, which work by preventing dead skin blocking hair follicles and killing bacteria on the skin. Another option is antibiotics to kill off the bacteria.
However, many of these treatments can take weeks to be effective and some carry a risk of side-effects, including dry skin, and nausea.
The new treatment, which looks like an ordinary plaster and is used once, produces results overnight - with no apparent side-effects.
The patch consists of a mesh-like material impregnated with special molecules. When these come into contact with moisture on the skin, they create a tiny electrical field in which bacteria cannot survive.
The patch appears to have a knock-on effect on the skin around it, helping break down dead skin and bacteria. The mesh also contains salicylic acid, which removes the dead skin blocking the follicles, and azelaic acid, to kill bacteria in the pores.
The study results are expected by the end of the year, and the patch itself could be available within two years. Although the plaster is designed to treat only one spot, its developers are also looking at the idea of a larger pad that can be cut to the size the user needs.
A plant used to make jam may be another new way to tackle acne. In a clinical trial, sufferers are using a cleanser based on extract of roselle - a perennial, yellow-flowered Australian shrub that grows to three feet high. The plant, used to make jam since colonial times, is rich in anti-bacterial and anti- inflammatory compounds, Now its benefits are being tested in a trial at Thammasat University, Thailand. The cleanser will be applied to the skin two or three times a day for six weeks. It works by unblocking blackheads and whiteheads, say the researchers. It may also reduce the levels of propionibacterium acnes, a bacterium found naturally on the skin, which plays a key role in acne.