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5 Types Of Bacteria That Live On Your Skin | Optics and Lab Equipment

5 Types Of Bacteria That Live On Your Skin

Last Updated: 14.11.19


Regardless of whether we like it or not, there are billions of bacteria living on our skin, and those can be so tiny that not even binocular compound light microscopes can see them clearly. Unlike bacteria that live in the soil or difficult to reach areas, for which cordless microscopes can successfully be used for monitoring and investigations, these can be observed in a lab or even at home if you have a powerful enough unit.

Here are the most common types that live on your skin. They are not all benign or malign and specific conditions must be met for them to create health problems. Learning more about them will put you in the position to understand better the human body and the microorganisms that live in close relation with it.

Propionibacterium acnes

By the name of these bacteria, you may probably suspect what they are often responsible for, and that is bouts of acne. This type of bacteria prefers oily areas, such as your face and those around hair follicles. When there is an excess of sebum production, and the pores get clogged, the bacteria thrive and cause acne.

Imagine these bacteria are millions or more of living things. The sebum clogging the pores is the food they eat, so they consume this fuel and multiply out of control. But why is sebum such an excellent means of nourishment for these critters?

Sebum is necessary for your skin, as its primary role is to keep it moisturized and supple. It does the same thing for your hair. However, due to hormonal imbalances and other factors, it can be produced in excess. Being a combination of fats and other lipid compounds, it is treated by these bacteria as pure energy.

When there’s too much sebum, the pores clog and the bacteria accumulate inside them. The immediate response of the body is to send white blood cells in a frenzy to isolate the problem, and that’s when you notice the common inflammation spots on your skin we know as acne.



Many bacteria manifest as different species, some pathogenic and some non-pathogenic. This type is no exception to the rule, and one of its mutations is considered one of the favoring conditions and causes for diphtheria. Diphtheria is a disease that manifests as an infection that affects the upper respiratory tract.

Also, ill people will develop skin lesions. Inside these wounds, the bacteria will thrive and make the human body even more affected by the disease. Unfortunately, even the non-pathogenic strains of these bacteria can be dangerous for people with a weakened immune system. They can lead to meningitis and are associated with urinary tract infections.


Staphylococcus epidermidis

These bacteria are generally friendly and healthy individuals have nothing to worry about. Actually, this type of bacteria offers the means to protect the body from certain microorganisms, as it lives in balance with them. However, what you should know about these bacteria is that it can create a barrier against antibiotics.

Typically, you won’t have any troubles with them, but when the bacteria manage to enter the bloodstream, that’s when infections occur. Implanted medical devices sometimes offer the possibility for the bacteria to get inside your blood.

Catheters, pacemakers, prostheses, and artificial valves create some lesions that act as gateways for the bacteria to end up in the bloodstream. Due to their natural resistance to antibiotics, these bacteria are tough to eliminate, and, in hospitals, blood infections caused by them are on the top tier list.

Staphylococcus aureus

Like other bacteria we have mentioned so far, Staphylococcus aureus can be both pathogenic and non-pathogenic. Certain staphs are more dangerous than others, and that is why there are severe infections associated with it.

Usually, these bacteria live on your skin, inside your nose, as well as your respiratory tract. MRSA, which is short for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is one of the most dangerous staphs of these bacteria.

To get inside your body and cause an infection, these bacteria need a gateway which is usually a cut, or any other type of wound. Unfortunately, MRSA infections are related mostly to hospital stays, and it is a type of bacteria that can be mainly found in such locations, where its outstanding resistance to bacteria developed in the first place.

One of the traits of these bacteria is their exceptional capability to adhere to any surface, including medical equipment. Not all infections are severe, but when the bacteria manage to reach the internal body systems, fatality is a likely occurrence.

Streptococcus pyogenes

These bacteria are common to the throat area, but they live on your skin without a problem. Most of the time, Streptococcus pyogenes is a benign bacteria, and you won’t suffer from any health problems because of it. Nonetheless, in people with a weakened immune system, these bacteria can start wreaking havoc.

Some infections called by these bacteria are mild, but others can even cause the death of the patient. Strep throat is one infection associated with Streptococcus pyogenes. But while this infection may not sound that severe, something like scarlet fever or toxic shock syndrome is much more likely to be life-threatening.

The action of these bacteria once they enter the bloodstream is quite outstanding, as they can destroy both red and white blood cells. Another name by which they go is ‘flesh-eating bacteria’. This scary moniker describes precisely how the bacteria act once they infect a tissue.

The cells are practically destroyed, and the effect is called necrotizing fasciitis. And that is just one of the types of infections these bacteria are known for.


Last words

While all bacteria have pathogenic strains that can cause infections and even life-threatening conditions in some cases, for the most part, these microorganisms live on the human skin without causing any harm.

They live everywhere on the human body, but some prefer oily areas like the face and the scalp, others prefer dry areas – which cover most of the human skin, and others thrive in moist environments.



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