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Bacteria on your scalp

Bacteria on your scalp
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The most common scalp bacteria are Propionibacterium and Staphylococcus, and new research has found that which of these species is more dominant may determine whether or not you suffer from dandruff, as nearly half of all adults do. When there are many more Propionibacterium bacteria than Staphylococcus, the scalp is healthy. But a preponderance of Staphylococcus leads to dandruff. Now, of course, scientists need to develop shampoos that help keep these battling scalp bacteria in balance.

Read on to find out how to get rid of dandruff.

Critters in your eyelashes and eyebrows

Critters in your eyelashes and eyebrows
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Of all the microbes living in or on the body, the Demodex mites that live on eyelashes and in eyebrow hair follicles – along with hair follicles all over the body – might elicit the loudest “Ewwwwww’s”! These teensy animals have long bodies and stumpy legs and they spend their entire life on your face or body hair. They sleep, eat, and even have sex there. But while they’re rather disgusting to think about, the mites don’t usually cause any problems unless they overpopulate or spark an allergic reaction. Then they can lead to skin conditions like rosacea or seborrheic dermatitis. Some people may think their eyes are just dry or irritated when the mites are actually responsible. The mites seem to like us more as we age, so while only about 20 per cent of people under 20 have them, nearly all senior citizens do.

Bugs on your face

Bugs on your face
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Your skin is one of the body’s most important defences against outside threats, and the bacteria that live on the skin’s surface are important sentries. Your skin’s overall health is dependent on the balance between your own skin cells and the microbes that live on the surface – on average, about a trillion bacteria.  Dr Julie Segre, says that among the most common of these bacteria are Staphylococcus epidermidis, Staphylococcus hominis, Corynebacterium simulans, and Cornyebacterium accolens. “Basically, the healthy bacteria are filling all those little niches so that the more dangerous bacteria can’t get a foothold onto the skin,” says Serge.

The germs up your nose

The germs up your nose
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“Along with your skin, your nose and mouth are the parts that are most exposed to the environment,” says geneticist and microbiologist, Dr George M. Weinstock. “There are huge numbers of microbes impinging on them every second. And there’s a fairly elaborate system to make sure that if anything bad gets in there it gets wiped out.” Common bacteria in the nose include the same Staphylococcus and Cornyebacterium found on your face. And just as on the skin, the harmless Staphylococcus epidermidis can prevent the deadly Staphylococcus aureus bacteria from staking a claim to the space. Other tiny organisms, like mites and fungi, generally don’t inhabit the nostrils

Don’t miss these tricks to avoiding germs that actually don’t work.

The smelly microbes in your mouth

The smelly microbes in your mouth
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“The oral cavity is probably the second richest and most diverse source of microbes after the gut. There’s a lot going on there,” says Weinstock. Here’s something gross to think about: If you don’t brush your teeth regularly, you may have a “biofilm” of bacteria 300 to 500 cells thick on the surface of your teeth. An estimated one thousand species of bacteria can live in the mouth; in fact, different sides of the same tooth can have different populations of bugs. Common oral bacteria include Streptococcus sanguis and Streptococcus mutans. Besides battling the bad breath that these bacteria can cause, brushing and flossing regularly helps avoid gum disease that can cause bleeding. “Your system seems designed to deal with a little bleeding,” says Weinstock. “But when you have persistent periodontitis or gingivitis the bacteria can get into your circulatory system and cause problems.”

Find out how to say goodbye to bad breath for good.

Smelly microbes between your toes

Smelly microbes between your toes
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Whether your feet smell bad or not, they’re almost certainly home to a variety of fungi and bacteria, including the parasitic microbes Trichophyton and Epidermophyton that cause athlete’s foot. Good hygiene, including regular foot washing and wearing flip-flops or other shoes at the gym or in communal showers, can help keep the stinky population down.

These are the ways podiatrists say you’re killing your feet.

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Smelly microbes in your armpits

Smelly microbes in your armpits
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If there were no organisms living under your arms, you might never detect any smell there, since scientists have found that body odour corresponds to specific microbes – the bacteria called Coryneform – that break down fatty acids and proteins in sweat. The more coryneform bacteria, the stronger the smell. “Just like bad breath, underarm smell comes from the microbiome,” says Weinstock.

Don’t miss these tips to keep you looking and smelling great.

The multitudes on your hands

The multitudes on your hands
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Our hands are one of the most common ways we explore the world, and they’re constantly exposed to organisms from the outside. “The fingers are loaded with bacteria, says Weinstock. “And every time you scratch your head or put your finger in your mouth you’re moving organisms from one part of the body to another.” While some experts believe we’ve gone too far with hygiene – showering and soaping and shampooing and using antiperspirants – and are needlessly destroying the bacteria that live on us, most agree that frequent hand washing to get rid of bacteria is a good idea, since many of these bacteria are not the normal, beneficial ones but potentially harmful ones we’ve picked up.

Find out what your hands reveal about your health.

The hordes in your bellybutton

The hordes in your bellybutton
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Don’t forget this spot when you shower, since one experiment sampled navels from 60 people and found thousands of species of bacteria cosily ensconced there. How did the researchers feel about it? They titled their scientific paper A Jungle in There!

Are you showering correctly? Find out here.

The life inside the vagina

The life inside the vagina
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An estimated 300 species of microbes live in the vagina, and scientists believe these organisms play a role in reproductive health and help protect against disease. The most common – and beneficial – bacteria in the vagina are members of the Lactobacillus family. These bacteria secrete lactic acid and help fend off hostile invaders like the Candida yeast that cause infections. And by the way, men’s genitals have their own microbiome. A recent study found the penis and male urinary tract also contain a diverse community of microbes.

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