Our skin is covered by a huge variety of bacteria, fungi and viruses living in perfect harmony and constituting the skin’s microbiota, also called skin’s flora. New research reveals just how numerous are the species of fungi that colonize our skin and help it stay healthy and look good.
Almost everyone knows that our digestive system requires the presence of microorganisms in order to process food. Similarly, the skin’s own ecosystem needs beneficial germs to remain healthy. A recent genetic study conducted in the USA and published in Nature describes for the first time the 80 types of fungi that normally live on our skin. The areas where most species are found are our heels – and feet in general – while species are less abundant on the neck, back, ears and palms. This important finding has quadrupled the known number of types of fungal microbiota and will guide future research on the role of skin microorganisms. Furthermore, the study confirms the importance of respecting the balance of this ecosystem in order to keep our skin in the best possible condition. Remember: take short, tepid showers, and use soap, shower gels and moisturizers with a slightly acidic pH (between 4.7 and 5.5).
The human species has three broad ethnic types: black, Asian and Caucasian. This division, if not scientifically accurate, is convenient. Skin colour reveals, almost always at a glance, what ethnic type we belong to. But the difference in skins is not just a matter of pigmentation. The characteristics of the stratum corneum, glands and microflora also affect how skins age and what risks they face.
When comparing the appearance of black, white and Asian people, we often refer to skin colour. Ethnic differences are showcased by the body’s largest organ, the skin. But is colour the only difference between skins? Do different skins age differently? Which skins are more sensitive to chemical and environmental damage? Read More
Have you ever wondered why people smell different even though they wear the same perfume? Individual skin naturally contains a particular cocktail of chemicals that, rather like a fingerprint, leaves a unique aroma. When perfume blends with a person’s body odour it takes on a life of its own and creates a unique mark of identity.
At perfumeries, fragrances always smell just as their creator designed them. But they take on a different life on individual skin. We now know that we all give off a different body odour because everyone’s skin is composed of various chemical substances that, on evaporation, are transmitted by air and can be perceived by smell. These substances, known as volatile organic compounds, are part of all living organisms. Humans secrete them though two types of skin gland that produce sweat: eccrine and apocrine glands. When we apply a perfume, our natural body odour and the fragrance blend together and produce a specific, unique cocktail. But how do they blend? And why, once we are wearing it, does a perfume smell nothing like its creator planned? Read More
Why do mosquitoes attack some people and are not attracted by others? The answer lies in different microbiota (flora) compositions of skins, according to a recent study of the malaria mosquito.
The sweat from our skin would be odourless if it were not processed by the many different resident bacteria. The combined action of dozens of species of bacteria is what creates the personal odour of each individual. Anopheles gambiae is the mosquito responsible for transmitting malaria, which causes thousands of deaths each year. Researchers have demonstrated that this mosquito is more attracted to skins with more abundant bacteria but with low species diversity. This line of research, which explains why mosquitoes bite some people and not others, could be the key to the manufacture of anti-mosquito traps or drugs.