Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.


Video: A healthy bacterial balance

Our skin is home to billions of microorganisms, the vast majority of which are bacteria. Much like the microbiome in our gut, these microbes play a crucial part in keeping us healthy.

They are part of a finely balanced ecosystem of friendly or ‘commensal’ bacteria, which protect our skin by creating an inhospitable environment for would-be invaders, bolstering the physical integrity of the skin, and training the immune system to distinguish commensal inhabitants from pathogens.

A number of skin conditions are now thought to be influenced by a breakdown of this microbial ecosystem. Researchers are working out whether restoring the balance can treat these conditions.

Understanding the ecology of this rich community is likely to be an important part of both dermatology and the study of the microbiome.


This article is part of Nature Outline: The skin microbiome, an editorially independent supplement produced with the financial support of third parties. About this content.


Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing


Quick links