An emerging trend in wound care research is the use of probiotics and healthy bacteria to prevent infection.
You may have heard the phrase “good bacteria” in reference to the gut-residing microorganisms that aid digestion. Whereas clinicians have long known that these bacteria are an important part of the digestive system, little is known about the bacteria of the human skin microbiome. As the amount of antibacterial-resistant bacteria increases, wound infections become increasingly fatal due to lack of treatment methods. Recent wound care research has focused on the human skin microbiome as a source of alternative wound infection therapies. An emerging trend in wound care research is the use of probiotics and healthy bacteria to prevent infection.
Fighting bacterial infections with… more bacteria?
When skin is injured, infection-causing bacteria can cause further damage. Wounds can become especially dangerous if the bacteria colonizing the cut are resistant to drugs. As more and more bacteria are developing this resistance, researchers must look elsewhere for wound infection treatments. While it may sound counterintuitive, promoting the spread of healthy bacteria may minimize the damage done by those pathogenic bacteria causing wound infection. According to the American Society for Microbiology, in order to survive, bacteria rely on many mechanisms to eliminate competing bacteria.
Could capitalizing on the antimicrobial power of bacteria through the use of probiotics limit the risk of wound infections? A 2015 study by Walaa Mohammedsaeed, PhD, explored the effect of common probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG on wound healing; The report found that the topical application of this probiotic accelerated the healing of scratch wounds.
Researchers from the University Hospital of South Manchester also studied probiotic treatment of wound infections. Their study demonstrated a link between an oral probiotic drink and the healing of burn wounds on a female patient. This research suggested that probiotics, in conjunction with antibiotic therapy, promoted wound healing by making the bacteria colonizing the patient’s burn wounds less drug-resistant.
More research is needed before using bacteria to heal infections can be a widely accepted treatment method. As Dr. Baljit Dheansa told Medical News Today, researchers must “establish a proper evidence base for their use in real wounds in humans rather than in the lab” before probiotics can “usefully enter the wound healing arena.” However, the existing research within the trend of probiotic wound therapy is promising in the fight against drug-resistant bacteria.
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