The skin microbiome includes the array of bacteria that lives on the skin. Each person’s unique makeup of bacteria determines their susceptibility to atopic dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis, the most common form of eczema, is an inflammatory condition that results in red, itchy patches on the skin that flare up due to various triggers.
One study has shown that while an individual is experiencing a flare up, the genetic diversity of bacteria on the skin changes. People who have eczema flare ups have less diversity of bacteria within the skin microbiome, suggesting an important link between the disease and bacteria living on the skin. These strains of bacteria offer a line of defense on the skin barrier which healthy individuals without eczema have more of.
There have been new treatments under development that include introducing new microbes from healthy individuals to the skin in patients with atopic dermatitis. Restoring the delicate balance of the microbiome is shown to be helpful in reducing flare ups. In one trial, patients who were treated overall experienced a reduction in rash itchiness and inflammation. They also reported feeling less of a need to use steroid-based treatments to manage their symptoms. This new kind of treatment shows promising evidence that alterations to the skin microbiome can be a key way to help those suffering from eczema.