Recent research has revealed that bacteria colonies on the skin may play a role in exacerbating the symptoms of eczema. The topical condition affects roughly 30% of the American population and causes dry itchy patches to develop on the skin. Although there is no definite cure for eczema or atopic dermatitis, there are treatments that can suppress the symptoms and grant patients a relatively high quality of life.
Researchers theorize that the condition occurs due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors, such as irritants that can trigger an immune response and cause inflammation in people with overly sensitive immune systems. A recent study has found that when the bacteria Staphylococcus Aureus colonizes eczema patches, the bacteria accelerates the growth of the patches.
Individuals with eczema are more likely to have reduced levels of filaggrin, a protein that plays a crucial role in strengthening the skin and bolstering its barrier function. This filaggrin deficiency makes it easier for bacteria to invade the skin, leading to higher bacterial susceptibility in people with eczema. Attempts by the body to address this bacterial invasion often lead to inflammation, which damages the skin even further and causes more discomfort.
Research has found that Staphylococcus Aureus bacteria can invade the skin of people afflicted with eczema and multiply and grow in the eczema patches. Once they invade, the bacteria mutate and grow faster. We know from prior studies that the presence of Staphylococcus Aureus bacteria on the skin of people with eczema is associated with increased disease severity.
Researchers analyzed skin samples from 23 Mexican children aged 5 to 15 years with moderate to severe cases of eczema. They took skin microbe samples from the study participants at the one-month, three-month and nine-month marks.
After cultivating the bacteria samples into close to 1,500 different colonies and analyzing the evolution of the bacteria cells, the researchers found that while new strains of S. Aureus did not appear, the single linear variety mutated several times during the study period. These mutations spread through the microbiome and accelerated the growth of the bacteria. Additionally, the mutations made the bacteria more visible to the immune system and caused a heightened immune response that ultimately worsened the symptoms of eczema.
Scientists believe that the bacteria exacerbates eczema symptoms by producing toxins and forcing the immune system to send in more immune cells that damage the already-weakened skin and compromise its barrier function even further.
With close to 30% of people estimated to have the S. Aureus bacteria in their nostrils, it is likely that a decent portion of eczema patients also have the bacteria. Larger studies with broader participant pools and stricter controls will be necessary to fully understand how microbiomes affect eczema and develop therapies for the mass market.
As researchers dig deeper into understanding the specific factors that worsen or tone down eczema flare-ups, patients can make use of the different symptom-relief products that are available on the market from various manufacturers such as Jupiter Wellness Inc. (NASDAQ: JUPW). Patients should first consult with an experienced medical professional who has a deep understanding of how their eczema has been manifesting over time.
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