eNews October 27, 2016

What is the skin microbiome?

What is the skin microbiome?

The trillions of bacteria, fungi and viruses that live on the skin all over our bodies is part of the microbiome. JAX Assistant Professor Julia Oh studies the human microbiome for its potential to deliver treatments for infectious and other diseases.

Our cheeks, eyes, inside of our nose, around our mouth, behind our ears, our armpits, underneath our fingernails, you name it.

So think about your skin. It's not just the same all over, right?

We have oily sites like our face, our scalp, our torso. We have dry skin like our hands, our forearms. And then we have moist skin like our feet and our armpits. And correspondingly what we found is that our skin's microbiome, which are the trillions of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that live on our skin, and really actually all over our bodies, is different based on these different skin properties.

And so why is this site-specificity of our skin and its microbes important? 

Well we know that skin disease also occurs in this site-specific manner. We get acne on our face. We get foot fungus or jock itch. We get eczema in our arm and leg creases. Or warts at different sites.

And so understanding the different ways that our microbes interact with our skin will help us understand how to make targeted therapeutics that are specific to our skin with the microbes at that particular site.