skin microbiome dermatology

Our skin serves as a barrier to protect us from the outside world. It is our first line of defense and is rich in microorg­anisms. It may sound scary but these microorganisms are the good guys that play a very important role in maintaining our health [1-3]. These good microorganisms – called microbiome- are found everywhere on/in our body helping us with our normal bodily functions.

The skin microbiome is formed at birth. The skin microbiome expands from top of the skin to deeper dermal layers. It is formed of various microorg­anisms on the skin.  The skin microbiome composition and diversity can be modulated by 2 main factors: genetic and immunological factors on one side and diet and environmental exposure, on the other side.

Why this Skin Microbiome Diversity is Important?

Research shows that higher degree of diversity in the skin microbiome is associated with healthier skin. Low microbial diversity has been characterized in patients with damaged skin, compared to healthy people [4]. Interestingly, a much lower degree of microbial diversity have been reported in Western cultures [5].

This is highly likely due to the increasing use of antibiotics or harsh skin cleaning/treatment routines in Western cultures, which could be related with the rise in skin allergies and other skin problems [6].  The skin microbiome could be affected by changing temperature, moisture, pH, sebum content, UV light exposure, and even what we eat and environmental stress.

skin microbiome


What does Skin Microbiome do?

A stable healthy balanced skin microbiome is important in maintaining skin health because these microorg­anisms closely interact with the skin’s biology, skin barrier, and  skin’s immune system [7]. 

This skin microbiome – immune interaction in the skin is very important for optimal skin barrier function, defense against pathogens, and tissue repair with the continuous production of critical anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial compounds to maintain healthy skin balance [8].



1. Skin microbiome prevents pathogens to take over the space and nutrients

These symbiotic microorganisms take up nutrients and space, limiting the infectious pathogen growth when they are on the skin surface. They are abundant enough overpower the harmful pathogens you might encounter and protect your skin from them. When the skin microbiome is unbalalanced, pathogenic bacteria or viruses can breach the skin barrier. These pathogens delay healing and contribute to inflammation.

2. Skin microbiome produces antimicrobial compounds and nutrients to protect the skin.

The skin microbiome can prevent the growth of pathogenic bacteria by producing antimicrobial compounds, which serves as defence mechanisms and preventing their growth. Skin cells produce basic proteins and lipids  such as sapienic acid that can have antimicrobial activities [9]. Other lipids like triglycerides produced by skin cells can be processed by these symbiotic microbes in the microbiome  into free fatty acids and di- and monoglycerides to have a bioactive action against other microbes [10-11] . The microbiome also produces other structural components to prevent pathogen invasion.

3. Skin microbiome and Skin immune system work together for maximum health.

The skin is a primary immunological barrier to the external environment. The skin microbiome can help many immune-related and immune-independent properties for skin health and balance, which are not yet deeply appreciated.  The skin contains a variety of immune cells (such as keratinocytes, Langerhans cells, and T cells) that can interact with microbes to protect us.

Recent research shows that the members of skin microbiome can promote protective immunity against bad bacteria by recruiting and activating these skin immune cells. For example, one of the members of skin microbiome – Staphylococcus epidermidis– can increase the skin’s immune defense against pathogenic invadors to protect the skin [12] .

With skin microbiome- skin immune interactions such as these are involved in both innate and acquired immunity. There is a potent capacity within the skin immune system to react and act in response to pathogenic microbes to help to maintain a strong host immunity by maintaining a balanced skin barrier. These microbiome-immune symbiosis are also vital for optimal skin barrier function and to prevent inflammation and early skin aging [8, 13].


What are the different types of skin microbiome?

The skin microbiome consists of various microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, viruses, and mites, which coexist in different skin environments such as oily (sebaceous), moist, and dry areas. Key bacterial genera include Staphylococcus, Cutibacterium, Corynebacterium, and Micrococcus. Fungi like Malassezia, viruses such as papillomavirus, and mites like Demodex also form part of the skin microbiome. The majority of bacteria in the human skin microbiome fall into four main groups: Actinobacteria (52%), Firmicutes (24%), Proteobacteria (16%), and Bacteroidetes (6%).

Which are the two bacterial species that dominate the skin microbiome?

The two predominant bacterial species in the skin microbiome are Staphylococcus epidermidis and Cutibacterium acnes (formerly Propionibacterium acnes). Staphylococcus epidermidis is widespread on the skin surface, where it plays a crucial role in protecting against pathogenic bacteria by producing antimicrobial peptides and modulating the immune response. Cutibacterium acnes, primarily found in sebaceous (oil-rich) areas, helps maintain skin pH and produces antimicrobial compounds by breaking down sebum into free fatty acids. These activities contribute significantly to skin health and defense.

What does skin microbiome balance mean?

Skin microbiome balance refers to the harmonious coexistence of diverse microorganisms on the skin, maintaining a state where beneficial microbes thrive and pathogenic bacteria are kept in check. A balanced microbiome supports the skin’s barrier function, immune responses, and overall health, preventing infections and inflammation. Factors like diet, environment, and skincare practices influence this balance, and disruptions can lead to skin conditions and diseases.

How do you repair skin microbiome?

Repairing the skin microbiome involves maintaining a balanced environment that supports healthy microbial growth. This can be achieved by:

Using gentle, microbiome-friendly skincare products that avoid harsh chemicals and antibiotics.
Incorporating gentle and science backed ingredients into your skincare routine to support beneficial bacteria.
Maintaining a healthy diet rich in nutrients that support skin health.
Reducing stress and avoiding environmental pollutants which can disrupt the microbiome and result in inflammaging


How does the relationship between Skin, Skin Microbiome and Skin Immune System help us?

This tight relationship within the skin microbiome and skin immune system symbiosis regulates pathogen growth, skin barrier functions, skin balance (homeostasis) and immune response as well as the development of various skin diseases like atopic dermatitis, acne, and psoriasis [14, 15] . This symbiotic relationship between the skin cells, skin microbiome with the skin immune system leads to stimulation of anti-microbial peptide secretion, protection against pathogenic bacteria and production of ceramide to support the skin barrier and more —all of which provide much needed beneficial effects to the skin. Therefore, It is of great importance to understand and respect the cellular and microbiome components of the skin that works in harmony with skin immune response. 

As AveSeena, our Dermoimmuno TM Beauty Method allows us to focus on this unique skin-skin microbiome-skin immune wellness ultimate balance of the skin. Our focus on the “cosmetic skin microbiome” offers unique products without using any additional bacteria such as probiotics or prebiotics.

The holistic combination of scientifically selected ingredients that are in sync with skin microbiome replenish the skin with essential components  by visibly improving the quality of skin, accelerating its renewal process, improving skin barrier function and hydration, maintaining and replenishing the good microbiome on the skin for a healthier, firmer-looking skin.

Wishing you a glowing healthier skin,


Scientific References

  1. C Huttenhower et al, Structure, function and diversity of the healthy human microbiome, Nature 486(7402) 207–214 (2012)
  2. AL Kau, PP Ahern, NW Griffin, AL Goodman and JI Gordon, Human nutrition, the gut microbiome and the immune system, Nature 474(7351) 327–336 (2011)
  3. EA Grice and JA Segre, The skin microbiome, Nature Reviews Microbiology 9(4) 244–253 (2011)
  4. V Gontcharova, E Youn, Y Sun, RD Wolcott and SE Dowd, A comparison of bacterial composition in diabetic ulcers and contralateral intact skin, The Open Microbiology Journal 4 8–19 (2010)
  5. C Wallen-Russell and S Wallen-Russell, Meta analysis of skin microbiome: New link between skin microbiota diversity and skin health with proposal to use this as a future mechanism to determine whether cosmetic products damage the skin, Cosmetics 4(2) 14 (2017)
  6. B Taylor, J Wadsworth, M Wadsworth and C Peckham, Changes in the reported prevalence of childhood eczema since the 1939-45 war, Lancet 2(8414) 1255–1257 (1984)
  7. HE Baldwin, ND Bhatia, A Friedman, RM Eng and S Seite, The role of cutaneous microbiota harmony in maintaining a functional skin barrier, J Drugs in Dermatology 16(1) 12-18 (2017)
  8. Sanford JA, Gallo RL. Functions of the skin microbiota in health and disease. Semin Immunol. 2013;25(5):370–7.
  9. Drake DR, Brogden KA, Dawson DV, Wertz PW. Thematic review series: skin lipids. Antimicrobial lipids at the skin surface. J Lipid Res. 2008;49:4–11
  10. Puhvel SM, Reisner RM, Sakamoto M. Analysis of lipid composition of isolated human sebaceous gland homogenates after incubation with cutaneous bacteria Thin-layer chromatography. J Invest Dermatol. 1975;64:406–411.
  11. Sanford JA, et al. Inhibition of HDAC8 and HDAC9 by microbial short-chain fatty acids breaks immune tolerance of the epidermis to TLR ligands. Sci Immunol. 2016;1:eaah4609.
  12. Wang Y, Kuo S, Shu M, Yu J, Huang S, Dai A, Two A, Gallo RL, Huang CM.Staphylococcus epidermidis in the human skin microbiome mediates fermentation to inhibit the growth of Propionibacterium acnes: implications of probiotics in acne vulgaris.Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2014 Jan;98(1):411-24.
  13. Yamazaki Y, Nakamura Y, Núñez G. Role of the microbiota in skin immunity and atopic dermatitis. Yamazaki Y, Nakamura Y, Núñez G.Allergol Int. 2017 Oct;66(4):539-544.
  14. Belkaid Y, Tamoutounour S. The influence of skin microorganisms on cutaneous immunity. Nat. Rev. Immunol. 2016;16(6):353–366.
  15. Belkaid Y, Segre JA. Dialogue between skin microbiota and immunity. Science. 2014;346(6212):954–959
  16. Skowron K, Bauza-Kaszewska J, Kraszewska Z, Wiktorczyk-Kapischke N, Grudlewska-Buda K, Kwiecińska-Piróg J, Wałecka-Zacharska E, Radtke L, Gospodarek-Komkowska E. Human Skin Microbiome: Impact of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Factors on Skin Microbiota. Microorganisms. 2021 Mar 5;9(3):543. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms9030543. PMID: 33808031; PMCID: PMC7998121.


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