Skip Nav

Bacteria: The Good, the Bad, and Your Nose

The largest organ of the body, your skin, is awash with bacteria. If that isn't enough to make your skin crawl, there are 44 species of bacteria that make their home on your forearm flesh alone.

If you think of the body as different ecological environments, the forearm is a dry desert to the rain forest of the armpit. While moist regions create more types of bacteria, these armpit species differ greatly from the ones teeming on your forearm. Surprisingly, the most scolded to scrub area, behind the ears, harbors only 19 varieties of bacteria, not a diverse ecosystem.

See why having a multitude of bacteria is a good thing when you


Scientists at the National Institute of Health, who recently surveyed 20 different body regions in 10 volunteers, feel the biodiversity of bacteria is important to balancing our health. Research scientist Julia A. Segre explains the relationship between healthy and harmful bacteria like this:

"For example, 1.5 percent of Americans have MRSA [drug-resistant strain of staph infection] in their nose — but they don't show any signs of infection. Maybe it is that the other bacteria are keeping the MRSA in check and not letting it grow and create an infection. Or maybe it is because the MRSA is changing between when it's up in someone's nose and when it causes an infection."


Latest Fitness
Looking for the perfect gift this holiday season? Order our POPSUGAR Must Have box now >>