There being a myriad of microbes living on every square inch of our skin, researchers at University of California, San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences wanted to study its variety and how it is influenced by the skin itself, our hygiene, and the environment.
The research team recruited two adult volunteers, a man and a woman, who went without showering, shampooing, or using any moisturizer for three days. 400 swab samples were taken from different spots on each person’s skin, which were then chemically analyzed using mass spectrometry and the found DNA sequenced to identify microbial species.
The data was fed into a 3D mapping application which created a volumetric map of the chemical and microbial content of the skin. Though this was a very limited study on only two individuals, the researchers found that even after three days of not using any hygiene products, the highest levels of chemical compounds came from man-made components like beauty and cleaning products. The next steps will hopefully involve identifying which activities promote a healthy microbial population and which hinder it.
Here’s a video of one of the 3D skin maps:
Study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: Molecular cartography of the human skin surface in 3D…