Understanding Skin Flora  |  Biodermis.com Biodermis

Understanding Skin Flora | Biodermis.com

Understanding Skin Flora The skin is the largest organ of the human body that comprises about 16-18% of the total weight of the body. The skin is made up of three main layers: the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous fat, as well as several sublayers that comprise the epidermis. The epidermis (uppermost layer) plays an important role in protecting the body against infection, UV radiation, and losing water and important nutrients from the body. What many of us don’t know about this layer of skin is that it is a biome for what is known as skin flora. Skin flora, also known as microbiota, refers to the microorganisms that reside on the skin. That’s right; our skin is home to millions of bacteria, fungi, and mites, many of which aren’t harmful to our health.

Continue reading to learn more about skin flora and why it is an important part of your skin.

Microflora and their environment

The total number of microorganisms in and on our bodies is almost equal to the number of cells in the human body—approximately 30 trillion. The microbes on our skin are mostly congregated in and around our hair follicles. The most common flora found on the surface of the skin includes Staphylococcus, Micrococcus, Corynebacterium, Brevibacterium, Dermabacter, and Malasezzia. Some types of bacteria are considered transient, meaning they can only be isolated and cultured from skin samples occasionally. Skin flora can be found all over the surface of the skin, but certain species vary according to the location on the body. Areas of skin can be grouped into three categories: dry, moist, and oily. The dry sites include the forearms, hands, legs, and feet. Because these areas of the skin are most exposed to the external environment, they have the highest number of microorganisms. The moist areas of the skin, such as the creases of the elbows, beneath the breasts, and in between the toes and groin, allow Corynebacterium to flourish. The oily (sebaceous) skin sites include the head, neck, and back. These areas secrete sebum, an oily substance that creates the perfect environment for cutibacteria to thrive. Certain types of fungi, called malasezzia, are also known to be more numerous in the oilier areas of the skin.

Skin flora and human health

There are three distinct ways that microorganisms can exist in relation to human beings. Organisms that reap nutrients and benefit from us are called commensals. These types of flora don’t provide any health benefits from us, but they are harmless to our health. Another type of microorganism, called symbionts, is beneficial to our health and it derives benefit from us. This type of relationship is symbiotic, which means that is a type of mutually beneficial form of existence. The last type of skin flora is pathogenic, meaning that it is harmful to human health and causes disease. Most types of microflora that exists on our skin are part of the commensals group, so they don’t provide benefit but they also aren’t harmful. However, in some circumstances, the presence of commensals can prevent the colonization of pathogens, keeping us from getting sick.

Everyone has similar levels of microorganisms existing on the surface of the skin, but there can be differences due to certain factors due to age and environment. An interesting fact about newborn babies is that their skin is completely sterile until after they pass through the birth canal through vaginal delivery. After birth, the baby’s skin will acquire microbial growth through a number of factors, such as pH levels, moisture, temperature, sun exposure, the baby’s genetic makeup, and other factors. The point at which micro flora becomes harmful to a person depends on environmental and genetic influences. Injury where the skin barrier becomes damaged, for instance, can compromise the body’s ability to fight off infection, leading to the infiltration of pathogens. Furthermore, microorganisms can be harmful if a person’s immune system is suppressed due to medication or disease.

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