The skin flora, more properly referred to as the skin microbiome or skin microbiota, are the microorganisms which reside on the skin. Most research has been upon those that reside upon the 2 square metres of human skin, cf. the human microbiome. Many of them are bacteria of which there are around 1000 species upon human skin from 19 phyla. The total number of bacteria on an average human has been estimated at 1012 (1 trillion). Most are found in the superficial layers of the epidermis and the upper parts of hair follicles.
Skin flora are usually non-pathogenic, and either commensals (are not harmful to their host) or mutualistic (offer a benefit). The benefits bacteria can offer include preventing transient pathogenic organisms from colonizing the skin surface, either by competing for nutrients, secreting chemicals against them, or stimulating the skin's immune system. However, resident microbes can cause skin diseases and enter the blood system creating life-threatening diseases particularly in immunosuppressed people. Hygiene to control such flora is important in preventing the transmission of antibiotic resistant hospital-acquired infections.
A major nonhuman skin flora is Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, a chytrid and non-hyphal zoosporic fungus that causes chytridiomycosis, an infectious disease thought to be responsible for the decline in amphibian populations.
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Famous quotes containing the words flora and/or skin:
“A mans interest in a single bluebird is worth more than a complete but dry list of the fauna and flora of a town.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)
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At my face swinging over the human bed,
And somewhere you cried, let me go let me go.”
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