Working Paper Article Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

Skin Microbiome Biodiversity of Healthy Western Humans: A New Benchmark and the Effect of Age and Sex

Version 1 : Received: 17 June 2020 / Approved: 18 June 2020 / Online: 18 June 2020 (12:40:57 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Journal reference: Cosmetics 2020
DOI: 10.3390/cosmetics7040079


A catastrophic loss of microbial biodiversity on the skin has led to alarming increase in the prevalence of allergies and long-term damage to the skin, which could also have damaging knock on effects to overall health. This study uses 50 human participants, to obtain an average (benchmark) value for the biodiversity of ‘healthy’ western skin, which is crucial in updating our 2017 skin health measuring mechanism to use standardised methodology. Previous work with a larger sample size was unsatisfactory for use as a benchmark due to its use of different and outdated diversity indices. We also investigated the effect of age and sex, two known skin microbiome affecting factors. Although no statistical significance is seen for age- and sex- related changes in diversity, there appear to be changes related to age which elaborates on previous work which used larger, more general age ranges. Our study indicates adults age 28-37 have highest diversity, and age 48-57 the lowest. Crucially, because of this study we are now able to update the skin health measuring mechanism from our 2017 work. This will aid diagnostic assessment of susceptibility to cutaneous conditions or diseases, and treatment. Testing any human subject will be rapidly improved by obtaining future benchmark diversity values for any age, sex, body site and area of residence, to which they can be compared. This improvement means we can also more accurately investigate the ultimate question: What factors in the western world are a main cause of the skin allergy epidemic? This could lead to future restriction of certain synthetic chemicals or products found to be particularly harmful to the skin.


skin microbiome; skin microbiome biodiversity; biodiversity; skin ecosystem; skin allergy epidemic; benchmark skin health values; skin bacteria; 21st century skin ailments; measure skin health; healthy skin ecosystem; healthy skin bacteria; damaged skin bacteria;


LIFE SCIENCES, Microbiology

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