Microbiologists have discovered that the types of bacteria on a dermatitis patient’s skin affect the severity of the irritating skin condition. Variations in the types and numbers of microbes on the skin could explain why some suffer from more severe forms of skin disease.
One in five people worldwide has atopic dermatitis, an umbrella term used to describe skin conditions such as eczema. Taking a closer look at these patients’ skin microbiome signatures could provide vital clues to aid in diagnostics and designing appropriate strategies to manage the condition.
Researchers at the Skin Research Institute of Singapore studied the skin microbiome from a cohort of patients who attended a specialist treatment center for their condition.
They found two distinct types of microbial signatures, called Dermotypes A and B. The B type was linked to more intense and frequent flare-ups and significantly more itching. Interestingly, the microbial ecosystems on Dermotype B patients had less diversity in terms of the friendly microbial colonizers. They also observed differences in the metabolic capacity of type B bugs, which was linked to a spike in pathogenic virulence genes.
“Interestingly, when we integrated our data on the skin microbiome, host immunity and skin barrier function, we show that the dermotypes provide a link to a mechanism for microbiome-driven inflammation and increased disease severity,” said study author Niranjan Nagarajan.
These results help classify dermatitis patients according to their specific needs and could even open the door to innovative treatment approaches. By therapeutically altering the dermotype state, patients may experience relief from their symptoms and possibly even restoration of the skin’s homeostasis.