Bacterial Spray Could Help Clear Up Eczema

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Just like our guts, our skin has its own microbiome — bacteria both helpful and harmful that live on our face, neck, arms…everywhere.

Recent research has shown that people with a painful skin condition called eczema may have an off-kilter skin microbiome. So, a scientist from the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases has developed a spray loaded with the bacteria that people with eczema are missing, called Roseomonas mucosa.

Credit: Oregon State University/Flickr

In an exclusive interview with NBC News, Dr. Ian Myles of the NIAID said, “We have done some genetic testing that tells us definitely that those bacteria (on people with eczema) are different.” He explained that while the bacteria people with eczema have does exist to some degree, it is very weak and therefore unable to do its job, like staving off bacteria that causes eczema.

“We took the bacteria from healthy people and we saw that the bacteria does everything you want it to do to improve atopic dermatitis in mice,” Myles told NBC News. “In mice, we can actually make their disease go away with this bacteria.”

Next, Myles and his team need human subjects for phase I clinical trials to prove safety. It’s possible it will show the treatment works, too.

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Other doctors and scientists are also trying to develop approaches using “good” bacteria to control eczema, just as a new pharmaceutical alternative came out last week.

Last month, Vital Updates reported that scientists at the University of San Diego have used a lotion containing benign (harmless) staph bacteria to fight eczema.

“Twenty-four hours later, it was clear – the probiotic lotion reduced levels of the bad bug, Staph aureus, on the participants’ skin,” NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins wrote in his blog. “Hopefully, the promise of these new findings can provide some encouragement to the more than 31 million Americans, many of them children, who now suffer from eczema.”

According to the NIAID, a combination of genetic and environmental factors probably cause eczema.

Children whose parents have asthma and allergies are more likely to develop atopic dermatitis than children of parents without allergies diseases,” the NIAID reports on its website. “Approximately 30 percent of children with atopic dermatitis have food allergies, and many develop asthma or respiratory allergies.”

Urban dwellers and those living in dry climates are also more susceptible to eczema.

Related: Can This New Beauty Tool Really Zap Your Way to Perfect Skin?

A professional journalist nearly 30 years, David Heitz started his career at the Quad-City Times in Davenport, Iowa before moving to Los Angeles. He led the Glendale News-Press to best small daily newspaper in the state (CNPA) as managing editor and also worked as executive news editor of the Press-Telegram. He worked briefly as deputy news editor of the Detroit News before returning to the Quad-Cities, where he has worked as a freelance medical writer since 2012 for several national websites. He recently purchased his childhood home and says he truly is “living the dream.”