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Antiperspirants, Deodorant alter Body’s Bacteria, Study Says

Update Date: Feb 03, 2016 11:33 AM EST
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Antiperspirants and deodorant can change the community of bacteria, often referred to as the microbiome that exists in the armpits, a new study found.

The human skin is covered in a wide range of microbes, which are typically harmless. Some microbes can be beneficial for the immune system. In this study, the researchers headed by Julie Horvath wanted to examine whether or not topical products, antiperspirants and deodorant in particular, can affect the community of bacteria that is present on the skin.

The team recruited 17 volunteers to participate in their eight-day experiment. Seven of the volunteers reported using antiperspirant and five more used deodorant regularly. The remaining five participants did not use anything on their armpits.

On day one of the study, every one was instructed to carry out their regular routine. From days two to six, all of them were told not to use any underarm products. Then on the final two days, everyone used antiperspirant.

On day one, the researchers found that the armpits of people who used antiperspirant had fewer bacteria in comparison to people from the other two groups. People who used deodorant had the highest amount of bacteria out of all three groups.

After the second part of the second, when everyone refrained from using anything on their armpits, the researchers found that everyone had similar amounts of bacteria. The type and diversity of the bacteria, however, were all very different between the three groups.

People who did not use either product had a higher concentration of corynebacteria (62 percent), a group of bacteria that is related to body odor. People who used antiperspirant or deodorant tended to have more staphylococcaceae bacteria.

The researchers were not able to conclude whether or not the changing microbiome negatively or positively affects one's health.

"We know that these skin microbes interact with the immune system," said Horvath reported by HealthDay, via Philly.com. "So it's important to consider what our daily habits do to the skin's microbiome."

Horvath added, "We know a little bit about the skin microbiome. But we have so much left to learn."

The study was published in the journal, Peer J.

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