What are Bacterial Biofilm in Skin Infections?

Continuing our New Year’s series about the importance of cleansing and moisturizing in self care, today we’ll dive into bacterial biofilm. We’ll tell you what it is and what it means for the health of your skin. Also, we’ll tell you what you should do about it. Read on!

What is Biofilm?

Biofilm builds vast networks
Think of biofilm as a neighborhood of bacteria establishing itself on your skin

We’re familiar with bacteria as a concept–it’s a fact of life and exists everywhere. If you think of bacteria as individual houses, biofilm is the subdivision they build when they want to create a community to make themselves more resilient and likely to survive. They do this by creating an extracellular substance (slime made of sugar units) that increases their chance of survival against intrusion. This community strength means they’re harder for us to eliminate with antibiotics and other treatments at our disposal. In fact, 80% of human infections are associated with biofilm, but it is difficult to detect.

Where does Biofilm live?

Biofilm can form within a 6-12 hours on virtually any object, and it thrives in wet environments. Biofilm grows on surfaces like those found in showers and gyms and on objects like kitchen utensils, animal, plant, or human tissue–and even medical devices like pacemakers and joint implants. Examples of biofilm you’d be familiar with are dental plaque and pond scum. However, biofilm can also be invisible to the human eye.

Why does Biofilm matter?

Your skin naturally protects you from infection when it is intact. But skin becomes susceptible when an accident or irritation turns into a wound. Biofilm can cause acne and Staph infections to become chronic issues rather than temporary annoyances. Patients with a severe infection will likely need ongoing antibiotics and other treatments that may take significant time to be effective.

Who needs to pay attention to Biofilm and Risk of Skin Infections?

If you deal with frequent skin irritations, arm yourself with the knowledge around how to prevent biofilm buildup. The below three audiences, in particular, should take special care.

Athletes
If you play a contact sport or any sport that makes you work up a good sweat, thorough hygiene practices are important to protect your skin from infection. Shower within one hour of a workout and keep your clothes and gear clean and dry. If one waits to shower, the small number of bacteria present after a workout can grow from single units to colonies of bacteria that are shielded by a protective slime layer. Thereafter, they become much harder to remove and can be a breeding ground for bacteria to multiply rapidly.

Teenagers and Adults with Oily Skin
If you have oily skin, you are more prone to an infection at the hair follicle. Use a cleanser that targets the bacteria where it lives and a moisturizer that balances your skin after you’ve cleansed.

Eczema Patients
For those of you with eczema, you’re all too familiar with complicated treatments, lotions and medications often needed to control symptoms. Continue with your prescribed plan and arm yourself with effective cleansers, such as CLn BodyWash. Also, try as hard as possible not to scratch flares. Resulting abrasions are like throwing the doors wide open at a house party for biofilm.

What are other steps for prevention of Biofilm in skin infection?

The best course of action for biofilm infection prevention lies in keeping your skin clean and dry. Look for a cleanser like CLn BodyWash that is tough on microbes, but gentle on skin. CLn BodyWash is a sodium hypochlorite wash created in partnership with dermatologists especially for skin prone to irritations, rashes and infection. CLn SportWash is also recommended for use post-workout even for those without active breaks in the skin.

Another wise move is to think before you share. Biofilm germs can transfer from bars of soap, hats, sport equipment, bathtubs—you get the gist. We all are prone to have biofilm, but we don’t want to share others’ biofilm.

Also, think of your skin as a protective barrier designed to keep biofilm out of your body. Any breaks in skin allow those biofilm subdivisions to annex more land, metaphorically speaking. So, are your hands cracking in the dry, cold January air? Apply moisturizer to help repair the barrier. New gym shoes causing blisters? Break them in slowly to avoid popped blisters that result in open wounds.

What else can be done about biofilm?

Studies are being conducted to learn more about the molecular mechanisms that cause biofilm formation, why they grow, and why they’re able to resist common treatments like some antibiotics. A better understanding will significantly improve the resources available to healthcare providers to combat biofilm-related infection and will improve the health of patients. But continue to wash up! And don’t forget to give your nails a good scrubbing. Bacteria can breed under them, transfer to skin, and allow biofilm subdivisions to grow.

We hope this article has been helpful. Look for more health-related articles from CLn’s blog this month.

Disclaimer: The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice. The information, graphics, and images on this website are not intended to substitute diagnosis and/or treatment by a medical professional. These products have been clinically tested and proven to be safe for intended use. Always seek the advice of a physician with any questions you may have regarding a specific medical condition.