The Microbiota of the Human Skin

  • Markus EgertEmail author
  • Rainer Simmering
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 902)


The aim of this chapter is to sum up important progress in the field of human skin microbiota research that was achieved over the last years.

The human skin is one of the largest and most versatile organs of the human body. Owing to its function as a protective interface between the largely sterile interior of the human body and the highly microbially contaminated outer environment, it is densely colonized with a diverse and active microbiota. This skin microbiota is of high importance for human health and well-being. It is implicated in several severe skin diseases and plays a major role in wound infections. Many less severe, but negatively perceived cosmetic skin phenomena are linked with skin microbes, too. In addition, skin microorganisms, in particular on the human hands, are crucial for the field of hygiene research. Notably, apart from being only a potential source of disease and contamination, the skin microbiota also contributes to the protective functions of the human skin in many ways. Finally, the analysis of structure and function of the human skin microbiota is interesting from a basic, evolutionary perspective on human microbe interactions.

Key questions in the field of skin microbiota research deal with (a) a deeper understanding of the structure (species inventory) and function (physiology) of the healthy human skin microbiota in space and time, (b) the distinction of resident and transient skin microbiota members, (c) the distinction of beneficial skin microorganisms from microorganisms or communities with an adverse or sickening effect on their hosts, (d) factors shaping the skin microbiota and its functional role in health and disease, (e) strategies to manipulate the skin microbiota for therapeutic reasons.


Skin microbiota Bacteria Archaea Fungi Actinobacteria Firmicutes Proteobacteria Homeostasis Skin diseases Skin defense and immunity Cosmetics Perspiration 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Medical and Life Sciences, Institute of Precision Medicine, Microbiology and Hygiene GroupFurtwangen UniversityVillingen-SchwenningenGermany
  2. 2.Corporate Scientific ServicesHenkel AG & Co. KGaADüsseldorfGermany

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