The human skin microflora and disease

  • William C. Noble


The human skin is a complex habitat. It comprises areas that are relatively dry, such as the forearm, and others that are moist, such as the perineum and toewebs. Some areas have abundant lipid from sebaceous glands, such as the face, scalp and upper chest and back, while some, such as the axillae, also have secretions from specialized apocrine glands. Areas with many eccrine sweat glands may become highly saline as watery sweat induced by heat or exercise evaporates. On balance, an average adult has a total skin surface area of about 1.5 m2 with a pH of about 5.5 and a temperature between 30° and 37 °C with substantial local variations. The various skin secretions supply amino acids, metal ions, fatty acids, sugars and other nutrient materials although in dilute solution (Marples, 1965; Noble, 1981, 1993). It should therefore be no surprise that skin is inhabited by many different microorganisms, some of which may be fairly localized.


Clinical Microbiology Nasal Carriage Propionibacterium Acne Eccrine Sweat Gland Normal Human Skin 
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  • William C. Noble

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