Monday, September 28, 2015

Microbes on my skin

For some reason I haven’t had good luck getting uBiome to process my skin microbe samples. I swab the skin under my ear, just as directed, back and forth for a minute or so. I use their special water. The results always come back later saying they found nothing.

So today, imagine my surprise when they sent me a nice note announcing that they’d re-run my latest skin sample and found something! The web site version only found two phyla, which at first didn’t seem very interesting:
Skin Sample Compared
The sample shows up as only two taxa: Actinobacteria (96%) and Firmicutes (the rest). Fortunately, by downloading the taxonomy data and converting to Excel, I was able to get more details. Here’s my skin at the genus level:

Skin Microbes (Genus)

The vast, vast majority of microbes behind my ear are Propionibacteria, which appears to be true for most people and most skin types. This genus contains the special P. Acnes species known to be linked to acne. The species level information in my case only identified about half of all the taxa found in my sample, so although none of what was found was P. Acnes, it’s possible that it’s lurking in there someplace.

Since learning more about the microbiome, I’ve stopped using hand sanitizers, switched to shampoo that is free of sodium laurel sulfate, and I take other precautions to ensure i have the most “natural” skin microbiome I can get, but I don’t know if those actions have helped (or hurt).  The only way to find out will be to send another sample so I can compare. Now that I know uBiome is able to process my skin type, I’ll be sure to do that.