An intact microbiome protects our skin as a natural shield against external influences. However, if this sensitive system is disturbed, it can lead to serious skin diseases. A Styrian consortium has therefore set itself the goal of developing a natural, medical skin care product. Living bacteria contained in it are strengthening the skin microbiome and warding off pathogens.
As the largest human organ, our skin is protected against external influences and diseases by a natural microbial film composed of a large number of bacteria. However, if the skin microbiome we are talking about is weakened, our skin forms a gateway for many pathogens. The skin microbiome of babies, which is still developing, is particularly sensitive. Incorrect colonization with harmful bacteria can lead to diaper rashes and other skin diseases. The widespread disease neurodermatitis (dermatitis atopica), which already affects up to one in four children in industrialized nations, is also associated with an unfavorable bacterial colonization.
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), which a certain percentage of the population carries permanently on their skin or mucous membranes, are extremely dangerous to our health. Here, especially in environments such as hospitals, infections frequently occur in the case of immunodeficiency, long-term catheterization or long-term ventilation, which can lead to sepsis and death. Such hospital-acquired germs are responsible for nearly one million deaths worldwide each year and represent not only a significant burden on the healthcare system, but a major threat to humanity. Therefore, it is even more important to strengthen the natural microbiome and preventively protect against harmful pathogens.
Probiotic skin cream protects against pathogens
The answer could be a medical skin care with viable natural bacteria with positive effects on the human organism. Most probiotic products to date are taken orally and have the purpose of keeping our intestinal flora healthy. However, providing the skin with probiotic care is much more difficult, because many cosmetics with a high water content contain preservatives for longer shelf life, which kill the probiotic bacteria. Therefore, the researchers want to trap bacteria that have very high requirements in such a way that they can survive in an aqueous suspension so that they can settle on the skin alive and develop their full spectrum of activity. Those bacteria with the desired properties are then trapped and immobilized thanks to a novel preservation process. This means that their activity is reduced, but they can multiply again during application. As a result, harmful preservatives can be avoided and products can be produced without animal testing, evidence-based, free of harmful substances and ecologically. The lactobacilli must on the one hand be able to assert themselves against pathogens such as bacteria and fungi and on the other hand should strengthen the skin barrier.
Cosmetic and medical products planned
In the long term, the findings are to be translated into marketable cosmetic and medical products – for example, against neurodermatitis or diaper rash. Given the high market volume of skin care products for babies and children – €70 million in Austria and Germany alone and €4 billion worldwide – the new probiotic application could meet with high demand and offer a gentler, more natural therapeutic approach to numerous skin diseases.
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