What are biofilms and how do they make acne worse

Biofilms are formed when groups of bacteria or other microorganisms attach to surfaces and secrete a thin slime
that helps them adhere strongly.

 Acommon example is the formation of plaque on teeth. Biofilms can form on most
surfaces within 6 to 12 hours, including the skin. Oily skin, damaged skin or skin with extra moisture is more prone to the formation of biofilms.20,21

Biofilms are a great medical challenge to treating bacterial infections as they offer physical and chemical protection
to bacterial cells. In particular, they block access to the bacteria and also secrete chemicals that destroy therapeutic agents. When it comes to acne associated biofilms the secreted chemicals can also further irritate the skin which can exacerbate acne.16,21,22

Manuka Honey targets and destroys acne-associated biofilms

Manuka Honey has been scientifically proven to prevent the formation of skin-surface biofilms, as well as permeate
and destroy already formed biofilms. Essentially it works as both a preventative treatment and a healing agent. The active compounds are DHA (dihydroxyacetone), MGO (methylglyoxal), antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents
and sugar components in the honey.23–25

Manuka Honeyworks against bacteria and biofilms in the following ways:

- The sugar constitutes and MGO (Methylglyoxal in Manuka Honey) penetrate and disrupt biofilm assembly.

- MGO ((Methylglyoxal in Manuka Honey) blocks gene expression of key bacterial compounds

- MGO(Methylglyoxal in Manuka Honey) kills bacterial cells by rupturing them or disrupting the cell division process so new cells cannot be made

- Antioxidents and anit-inflammatories alter bacterial cell shape and growth

- The combined active compounds in Manuka make if effective against multi-drug resistant bacteria.22–26


16. Brandwein M, Steinberg D, Meshner S. Microbial biofilms and the human skin microbiome. NPJ Biofilms Microbiomes. 2016 Nov 23;2:3.

20. CLn Skin Care Blog. What are Bacterial Biofilm in Skin Infections? [Internet]. CLn Skin Care. 2021 [cited 2021 Jul
31]. Available from:

21. Vaishnavi KV, Safar L, Devi K. Biofilm in dermatology. JSSTD. 2019 Apr 22;1(1):3–7.

22. Michael Y. Liu, Nural N. Cokcetin, Jing Lu, Lynne Turnbull, Dee A. Carter, Cynthia B.
Whitchurch, et al. Frontiers | Rifampicin-Manuka Honey Combinations Are Superior to Other Antibiotic-Manuka Honey Combinations in Eradicating Staphylococcus aureus Biofilms | Microbiology. Frontiers in Microbiology [Internet]. 2018 Jan 11 [cited 2021 Jul 25];8(2653). Available from:

23. Roberts AEL, Brown HL, Jenkins RE. On the
antibacterial effects of manuka honey: mechanistic insights. RRB. 2015 Oct 29;6:215–24.

24. Johnston M, McBride M, Dahiya D, Owusu-Apenten R, Nigam PS, Johnston M, et al. Antibacterial activity of Manuka honey and its components: An overview. AIMS Microbiology. 2018;4(4):655–64.

25. Kot B, Sytykiewicz H, Sprawka I, Witeska M. Effect of manuka honey on biofilm-associated genes expression during methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus biofilm formation. Sci Rep. 202 Aug 11;10(1):13552.

26. Jing Lu, Nural N. Cokcetin, Catherine M. Burke, Lynne Turnbull, Michael Liu, Dee A. Carter, et al. Honey can inhibit and eliminate biofilms produced by Pseudomonas aeruginosa | Scientific Reports. Scientific Reports [Internet]. 2019 Mar 12 [cited 202 Jul 26];9(18160). Available from: