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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

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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."

Source

Spectra Spectra 8 years
This is a big part of microbiology and it's something that a lot of people don't really "get". Bacterial growth is very complex. Your skin, eyes, intestines, mouth, etc. are all environments that harbor bacteria. Most of them are very innocuous and don't cause any problems. Lots of them are also beneficial...the coliform bacteria in your large intestine produce vitamin K and help break down fiber in your diet. When you get all crazy with antibacterial substances (soaps, douches, antibiotics, etc.), you kill off the harmless bacteria and allow the harmful ones to grow on your now "free" skin space.
Phil Phil 8 years
Don't forget all the fungal growths on our epidermis! Mycology plays a key role on the skin's ecosystem and acting in the constant struggle between the salubrious and insalubrious bacteria on our skin. It's kind of ambiguous to me as to why so much of the science media was taken by this study last week as it didn't really reveal anything new about the microscopic fervor that plays on on us, nor did it raise much novel lines of questioning. Using the media as a grant grab, mayhaps, like Hurum did with the whole Ida "missing link" farce? The NIH dos need funding, and funding typically doesn't come around without public interest.
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