Taking a dip in the sea can completely change the microbes on your skin for up to a day afterwards.
Marisa Nielsen at the University of California, Irvine, and her colleagues found the normal bacteria that make up the skin microbiome were almost completed washed off ocean swimmers in California.
The team took samples from nine volunteers at Huntington beach before swimming and then after they had air-dried, with more samples taken 6 hours and 24 hours later.
After swimming, the people were covered in ocean bacteria, including potential pathogens in the Vibrio genus of bacteria, which were detected on all the volunteers. In some cases, the concentrations of the ocean bugs were 10 times the levels found in the water.
The research, presented at the ASM Microbe conference in San Francisco, warned that the introduction of potential pathogens “could put individuals at increased risk for infection after ocean water exposure”.
So should we stop swimming in the sea? No, says Nielsen. “What I recommend is a post-swim shower.”
The criteria for being included in the study was strict: the volunteers couldn’t be regular sea swimmers, couldn’t be on antibiotics or have skin problems, couldn’t shower for a day afterwards and couldn’t put on sun block.
While this meant the sample size was small, the finding of the research was still clear because the difference in the skin microbiome before and afterwards was so huge, says Nielsen. More on these topics:
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