Microbiome: It sounds like a Mel Gibson movie or a Stephen King novel.

But it isn’t fiction. It is a very real part of everyone’s daily lives. Yet few people have a clue what it means.

First, a microbe is a living organism which can only be seen under a microscope. It’s a general term that includes bacteria, fungi, and viruses, among other organisms.

“Microbiome” refers to the colonization of a part of the body. We have skin microbiome, which is what the HS studies have been done on and we have gut microbiome, which is what dietary advice is geared toward.  We also have mouth microbiome, which is implicated in some health conditions and possibly also HS, and bacteria colonizing lots of other parts of our bodies (vagina, nose and sinuses, etc.).

An imbalance in this delicate microbial system causes all manner of health problems: everything from acne and autoimmune diseases, to hardening of the arteries, diabetes, and depression and anxiety, and other health issues.

For example, staphylococcus aureus. It is normally a Commensal bacteria, but if it grows unchecked or gets into a broken area of the skin it is responsible for “staph infection” abscesses and if it is a strain that is resistant to antibiotics, it is MRSA.  But when it lives on our skin, its presence may keep fungus/yeast on our skin from proliferating and causes rashes and itching due to the imbalance.

Is it possible that an imbalance in our microbiomes contribute to our HS?

Study results published in 2017 in JAMA Dermatology seem to think so.

In a nutshell, it was found that the microbiome in HS skin differs significantly from healthy control subjects.

If you Google “microbiome and Hidradenitis Suppurativa” you will find that a few studies have been conducted on the relationship of the microbiome and HS.

Dr. Haley Naik of the University of Southern California, San Francisco is currently conducting one of those studies.

“We don’t know if microbiome alterations happen first or if HS causes the imbalance,” she said. “Regardless of what is the chicken or the egg, treating the alterations can improve the condition. There may be some kind of therapy for HS if we can understand what the alterations and bacteria are.”

The results of Dr. Naik’s study will be available once the study is published.

This article was first published in the March 2019 issue of the HS Journal. It is reprinted here with permission.
(Thanks for assistance from Miss Sandra Guilbault and Miss Eris Hilburn)
No part of this article is to be construed as medical advice.