Today, there is a lot of buzz about biotics; pro-, pre- and postbiotics in skincare. Most biotic products on the market contain either dead bacteria or postbiotics – meaning what the bacteria have produced. Only a few products on the market contain probiotics, i.e. live bacteria, and usually, the probiotics found in skincare are in the form of live lactic acid bacteria. Lactic acid is bacteria that we normally do not have in our skin or just have minimal amounts of, instead they normally exist in the intestines or in the vaginal area.
The future probably lies in the application of skin-own bacteria, in other words, bacteria that exist in healthy skin. Scientists are currently in the process of identifying and trying to understand which bacteria and microorganisms define healthy skin. The idea is to grow these microorganisms and transplant them to a skin that is not as healthy.
The first study of such a skin transplant has already been done. Patients with eczema got sprayed with skin bacteria (roseomonas mucosa) from people with normal skin. The study showed that eczema improved significantly within a few months when sprayed twice a week. This interesting study was done in the USA, 2018 (1). It is important to mention that it’s a small study and that additional and more extensive studies are needed to confirm the results.
If this proves to be a successful treatment, we can imagine a future with creams containing bacteria that inhibit the growth of the bacteria that develop acne and eczema, an example of that is the bacteria S. epidermidis. In fact, probiotics made with S. epidermis is currently being developed by a start-up company in the US. The idea is that you should be able to spray or apply this on your skin. At the time of writing, the company is conducting clinical studies and we do not yet know the results of these.
Precisely this type of bacterial transmission has been done for a long time with feces in terms of the gut microbiome. The results have been proven effective in the treatment of, for instance, diarrheal diseases caused by the bacterium c. Difficile.
The research on probiotics with skin bacteria is still in its early stages, but perhaps future skincare will be bursting with bacteria. Until we know more - be kind to the ones you have.
Myles IA, Uzel G, Datta SK. First-in-human topical microbiome transplantation with Roseomonas mucosa for atopic dermatitis. JCI Insight. 2018;