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Microbiome and skin biology

Lunjani, Nonhlanhlaa,b; Hlela, Carolb; O’Mahony, Liama,c

Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology: August 2019 - Volume 19 - Issue 4 - p 328–333
doi: 10.1097/ACI.0000000000000542
SKIN ALLERGY: Edited by Thomas Werfel and Torsten Zuberbier

Purpose of review The skin is home to a diverse milieu of bacteria, fungi, viruses, bacteriophages, and archaeal communities. The application of culture-independent approaches has revolutionized the characterization of the skin microbiome and have revealed a previously underappreciated phylogenetic and functional granularity of skin-associated microbes in both health and disease states.

Recent findings The physiology of a given skin-niche drives the site-specific differences in bacterial phyla composition of healthy skin. Changes in the skin microbiome have consistently been associated with atopic dermatitis. In particular, Staphylococcus aureus overgrowth with concomitant decline in Staphylococcus epidermidis is a general feature associated with atopic dermatitis and is not restricted to eczematous lesions. Changes in fungal species are now also being described. Changes in the composition and metabolic activity of the gut microbiota are associated with skin health.

Summary We are now beginning to appreciate the intimate and intricate interactions between microbes and skin health. Multiple studies are currently focused on the manipulation of the skin or gut microbiome to explore their therapeutic potential in the prevention and treatment of skin inflammation.

aAPC Microbiome Ireland, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland

bDepartment of Dermatology, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

cDepartment of Medicine and Microbiology, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland

Correspondence to Liam O’Mahony, Office 450, 4th Floor Food Science and Technology Building, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland. Tel: +353 21 4901316; e-mail:

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