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An introduction to the skin microbiome
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An introduction to the skin microbiome

The surface of the skin carries hundreds of bacteria, and their composition could be what makes your skin healthy
skin microbiome
Representational image | Canva

Your skin is teeming with life. Microscopic life to be exact. Before you get worried, know that it is quite natural to have some microbes on the skin surface. In fact, they play a very important role in its health. The skin serves as a protective barrier, keeping out harmful pathogens, and provides a habitat for beneficial microorganisms.

The skin hosts various microorganisms, forming a community that plays a crucial role in both health and ill health. “The skin microbiome is made up of bacteria, yeasts, fungi, viruses and mites that are present on the surface of the skin and are very important for our skin health” says Chris Callewaerta  a microbiologist from the University of Ghent in Belgium.

How microbiome affects skin health

There are several ways that the microbiome aids skin health. For one, they act as a barrier preventing other harmful bacteria from entering the body, explains Callewaert. “It communicates with our immune system constantly.”  This is helpful in protecting the body further.

However, imbalances in the skin microbiome (dysbiosis) have been associated with various skin conditions, including acne, eczema, psoriasis, and infections. Understanding and modulating the skin microbiome may offer new approaches to manage these conditions.

Studies show that healthy adults have a combination of bacteria and fungi. Bacterial species like Staphylococcus epidermidis are the most abundant.

The exact composition can vary depending on the specific area of the skin and individual factors like age, diet, and overall health.

Skin sites that typically have more sebum like the forehead or behind the ear are dominated by Propionibacterium species while moist areas like the inner elbow or the armpit contain an abundance of Staphylococcus and Corynebacterium species, which contribute to body odour.

While there are many species of bacteria that have been implicated in different skin conditions, it is still hard to pinpoint who the actual culprit is.

For example, Cutibacterium acnes plays a dual role in skin health by producing metabolites that repel harmful bacteria while also serving as the causative agent of acne.

Further studies are essential to unravel the factors determining a bacterium’s beneficial or detrimental effect on the skin.

Skin microbiome
Representational image | Canva

 

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