Individuals may be unique on the outside, but dig a little deeper, and we may be all the same. Research conducted by the University of Copenhagen found the microbiome of the dermis—or second layer of skin—is the same, universally.
The study, published in mBio, found that even though the epidermis, or outer layer of skin, is unique to each individual, the dermis has the same bacteria regardless of a person’s age or gender.
They studied skin samples from the knees and hips of healthy, Danish patients who were expected to have knee surgery. According to co-author Lene Bay, Ph.D, they found the microbiome of the epidermis to differ depending on age and gender. “On the other hand,” Bay said, “the microbiome in dermis is the same” regardless of other factors.
Researchers hope the information can lead to a better understanding of common skin disorders, like psoriasis and eczema. The findings can help them determine why they occur and how to treat them.
“It is important that we drop the assumption that we are all different, and that the microbiome of the skin does not matter very much,” said co-author Thomas Bjarnsholt, Ph.D. Since scientists already recognize the role bacteria plays in most skin disorders, he said “we need to understand the bacteria and the skin in its three dimensions.”
The skin can be separated into three layers: the epidermis, the dermis, and the subcutaneous tissue.
The epidermis is what you most often think of when you visualize skin, which makes sense because it’s the outermost layer. Its main responsibility is to protect your body from bacteria and infections.
Two layers below that is the subcutaneous tissue, or the hypodermis. This portion is made up of fat and connective tissue.
In between those two is simply called the dermis—this is where hair follicles, nerve ends, sweat glands reside, and other living tissues reside.
By understanding what happens at each layer, dermatologists and researchers will be able to more accurately target the build-up of dominant bacterial species, which are connected to skin disorders.
“Hopefully, this knowledge will help us to understand for example how eczema occurs and which irregularities are taking place in the skin,” Bjarnsholt said.
Since the knees and the hips tend to be drier areas of the skin, researchers hope to study more oily areas and compare the findings. They also plan on comparing the microbiome of patients with and without skin disorders. In the meantime, if you’re living with psoriasis try these five natural remedies to help treat your skin.
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