​“Opportunistic Pathogens” Can Be a Trigger for Eczema

​“Opportunistic Pathogens” Can Be a Trigger for Eczema

Jennie Lyon

“Opportunistic Pathogens” Can Be a Trigger for Eczema

As eczema sufferers, we constantly need to be on the lookout for possible flare up triggers. Foods, the temperature, dust--really anything can be a potential trigger. But what if the worst trigger is something we can’t see, and with us all the time?

We found this article explaining how microorganisms that live on the skin might play a key role in the eczema flare up cycle.

The article explains that we all have microorganisms called microbes living on our skin. For the most part, they are benign and possibly even helpful. Some, however, can actually cause quite a bit of damage.

The vast majority of research on the role that microorganisms play in eczema has been focused on when a flare up is occurring. As we all know, if you aren’t very careful, a flare up can lead to an infection, usually with the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. Even if you don’t seem to have an infection, the bacteria can be on the skin in smaller amounts.

The leader of this scientific study, Dr. John Common, compared the skin of eczema sufferers in between flare ups to the skin of people without eczema. He found that there were far more opportunistic pathogens on the skin of eczema sufferers, many of which inhibit S. aureus colonization. This could mean that the cycle of eczema flare ups is caused by bacterial competition. Essentially, the bacteria are fighting a war on your skin, and when S. aureus wins, you have a flare up.

The study also found that there are far fewer useful, healthy bacteria on the skin of eczema suffers compared to the average person. Because these strains of bacteria actually have anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties, their absence could contribute to severity of flare ups.

The good news is that discoveries like these might eventually result in new and more effective eczema treatments. Eventually, specialized probiotic creams could help restore a microbial balance on an eczema sufferer’s skin and help keep it at a non-flare state. So, fingers crossed!


Soo, Daniel. "How To Control Eczema? With Fierce Bacterial Competition.”  Asian Scientist. Asian Scientist, 26 July 2016. Web. 27 July 2016.

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