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Foot Microbiome and skin infections

Updated: Aug 11, 2022

You must have heard of the word “microbiome” when reading about gut health for example. Did you know that the foot also has its own microbiome that needs to be actively kept healthy and balanced?

When the natural symbiosis between all the microorganisms of the foot is disturbed, it may lead to some infections like fungal infections, pitted keratolysis and erythrasma (photo). These skin infections are usually not painful, please do not wait to experience pain before booking an appointment with us.

Feet have one of the most unique microbial niches of the human body. Similar to other body sites, their microbiological niches are determined by skin thickness, anatomical features like skin folds, distribution of sweat glands, skin pH, and the availability of oxygen.

We can distinguish 4 areas within the foot that have different microbiomes

  1. Thin skin and very low moisturize-the top of the foot,

  2. Thin skin and low moisture-arch of the foot

  3. Thin skin and high-moisture-partially occluded- between the toes,

  4. Thick epidermis and relatively high-moisture-bottom of the feet (heel and forefoot)

11 reasons that might disturb the natural microbiome of the foot

  1. Genetic predispositions

  2. Metabolic diseases like diabetes

  3. Lifestyle: diet, hygienic and cosmetic habits, type of footwear worn

  4. Housing, working conditions and living environment

  5. Stress levels

  6. Chronic venous insufficiency

  7. Used drugs (antibiotics, cytostatic, and steroids)

  8. Type of footwear and socks

  9. Exposures to factors contributing to infection: swimming pools, saunas, gyms, etc

  10. Using pedicure services in offices of dubious hygiene quality

  11. Skin injuries.

Examples of how the microbiome of the foot can be disturbed

  1. People who work in the mining industry

  2. Kids

  3. Teenagers

Quick tips to have a healthy foot microbiome

  1. control your diabetes,

  2. reduce foot moisture,

  3. avoid asking your GP for antibiotics when not needed (for example when you have a flu),

  4. avoid synthetic materials while choosing socks,

  5. and always choose pedicurists that sterilize their instruments.

Source: Katarzyna Adamczyk PhD | Agnieszka Garncarczyk PhD | Paweł Antończak PhD | Dominika Wcisło-Dziadecka MD. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2020;19: 1039–1043.

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