How can climate change negatively impact the skin microbiome and cause skin conditions?

By Nigel Mellors
In June 22, 2022
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The many variables of climate change including temperature, humidity, UV radiation, and air pollution, all influence our skin, our outermost protective barrier against such environmental factors.

As well as our skin cells, the cutaneous barrier of the human body also includes a network of organisms called the cutaneous microbiome (also known as the skin microbiome) which can also be influenced by the many factors of climate change and affect your overall skin health. Previous studies suggest that changes in climate change might influence the epidemiology and severity of cutaneous disorders including, dermatitis, acne, psoriasis, and skin cancer.

A recent review article in the International Journal of Dermatology further investigates how the cutaneous microbiome changes in response to climate change and subsequently influences skin disease to better anticipate future dermatologic needs and potentially generate novel therapeutic solutions.

The authors state that as the planet’s climate changes, we will see corresponding and unpredictable changes in several important environmental factors, such as ultraviolet radiation (UV) temperature, humidity, and pollution. For example, high relative humidity (RH) can make skin more hospitable to bacteria compared to areas with low humidity. This is interesting as globally there has been an average decrease in RH due to land temperatures rising faster than ocean temperatures. However, localised increases in temperature and RH may lead to an increase in salinity on the skin that may favour the growth of potentially pathogenic bacterial species such as Staphylococcus aureus and Cutibacterium acnes, to the detriment of some other less pathogenic skin commensals.

The study highlights the need for further investigation into how the cutaneous microbiome alters in response to climate change and how this subsequently influences the development and progression of skin diseases which in turn will allow the development of new targeted therapeutics.

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