You know your skin is crawling with bacteria (if not, sorry to break it to you), but now researchers have identified more microscopic organisms on your body: fungi.
In the first study examining fungal diversity on human skin (published in Nature), researchers examined the DNA of fungi sampled from various body parts—including the face, chest, back, arms, and feet—of 10 people without diagnosed skin conditions. The findings: 80 different types of fungi on the body. The feet got the distinction of having the most.
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Don’t panic: “We’ve known that some fungi can cause skin infections, but this study shows that fungi can be on healthy skin without causing problems,” says Heidi Kong, M.D., dermatologist at the NCI's Center for Cancer Research, and coauthor of the study.
The feet had the most variety of fungi types, but one kind, Malassezia, was commonly found on other parts of the body.
Haven’t heard of it? It’s typically associated with dandruff: “It’s a microscopic fungus that grows naturally on the scalp,” says Graham Turner CBiol, FSB, and Hair Discover Category Project Leader at Unilever. “And it’s one of the key causes of dandruff.”
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