First off, what is the microbiome?
The microbiome is the invisible layer of bacteria, fungi and viruses that live on the surface of your skin. It is an entire universe of trillions of residents, calling your skin home. Don’t worry it's less scary than it might sound. This ecosystem works in epic cohesion to protect your body from outside irritants, and act as the first line of defense against outside viruses.
All these microorganisms living on our skin are in constant conversation with the skin’s tissues to keep a healthy balance. Cells in your skin perform background checks on microorganisms around them to identify bad ones. The cells work with good microorganisms to kill off any dangerous creatures.
This means that microorganisms like bacteria are always protecting you from outside threats. They fight pathogens, fungus, and parasites which may cause diseases or infections. We can also thank them for combating inflammation and helping our skin repair itself.
Top 5 Most Harmful Bacteria to your microbiome
Kicking off the list is Staphylococcus aureus. this is one of the few bacteria that is deemed wholly bad. This bacteria is rarely found on healthy skin and is a known contamineet in skincare and food. This bacteria is closely associated with eczema and psoriasis. Additionally, It has been known to cause various bacterial infections on the skin.Sound bad? There’s more, Staphylococcus aureus multiplies as it feeds on the skin and is known to increase and take over the skin population during atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. It is especially known to spike during atopic flares. These tricky little Staphylococcus aureus form biofilms and attach to the skin to produce toxins that trigger inflammation on the skin. Simply put. Having high levels of S. aureus on your skin is a sign of trouble and imbalance.
Group A Streptococci - esp. Streptococcus pyogenes
Group A Streptococci bacteria infections are some of the most common nosocomial (a disease originating from a hospital visit) skin infections. Within this group there is Streptococcus pyogenes which multiplies quickly and produces a red itchy rash on your skin called “erysipelas”. In addition, Streptococcal cellulitis is an acute inflammation of the skin caused by a secondary infection of Streptococcus species in a wound, burn, or surgical incision. This bacteria is tricky to pin down because it thrives in already damaged skin areas, like burned and wounded skin. This is why making sure your skin is clean + balanced is so important.
Ever heard of the: green nail syndrome, toe-web infections or folliculitis? Well, all these conditions have a common denominator, they are caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This bacteria has multiple strains/species, and many of them have been known to cause skin conditions. Species of Pseudomonas aeruginosa have been known to produce ceramidase which breakdown the ceramide on the skin which is important for your barrier function. These ceramidase producing P. aeruginosa have also been found frequently on atopic skin.
Cutibacterium acnes is one of the most common skin commensals, but also one of the most abundant in skin suffering from acne. This is why Cutibacterium acnes is associated with acne products. Some types of C. acnes have been shown to activate the immune response in acne by releasing certain enzymes and reactive oxidative species that may trigger the disruption of the skin barrier and also contribute to the amplification of the inflammatory reaction. To emphasize, most strains of this bacteria are harmless to your skin, and contribute to your microbiome in a healthy manner. However certain strains of this bacteria are correlated with acne. Specifically, the strain IA1 is found to be significantly higher in people with acne than in healthy skin. It is a safe assumption to believe that this strain is a contributing factor to acne.
Corynebacterium diphtheriae secrete a toxin called diphtheria which can cause infections in the throat, nose, or the skin. Other Corynebacterium that secrete the toxin are C. ulcerans and C. pseudotuberculosis. C. bovis is a potentially harmful bacteria that can cause “scaly skin disease” in people with a weak immune system. The overgrowth of this species has been related to development of atopic dermatitis, they start to emerge during the onset of eczema.C. bovis induced inflammation through increasing the Th2 response involved in development of allergic diseases.
We hoped you enjoyed this round up of harmful bacteria and now have a better understanding of the role bacteria play in your skin health. Are you interested in the bacteria on your skin? Discover the content and health of your microbiome with our Skin Microbiome Kit and receive personalized, science-backed results. Plus, learn more about our line of effective microbiome-friendly skincare here.