Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health Research Sheds Light on the Development of the Skin Microbiome


The study, along with new research shared on the first longer-term clinical assessment of cleanser types on skin microbiome, offers important insights for the care of newborn skin through childhood, as well as for the selection and development of skin cleansers and moisturizers.

New Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health research provides key insights into how the infant microbiome develops from birth to childhood.

The findings, based on 10 years of data, were presented at the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) Virtual Meeting Experience (VMX) 2020.

In 2009, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health researchers began the first study to understand how the infant microbiome develops from birth to childhood.  The long-term study also followed the mothers of each baby to see how their microbiome might change over time or influence the microbiome of their children.

Through ten years of follow-up, the study authors found that children at ages 3 to 4 had a similar skin microbiome as when they were infants. Their microbiome then began to change and had more microbial diversity from that point to age 10.  The authors also found that the mothers of these children did not see significant change to their skin microbiome over time.

"This study provides strong evidence of the evolving nature of our skin microbiome, how that relates to skin barrier development, and offers important insights for product use and development," says study lead author Kimberly Capone, PhD, Head of Microbiome Platform, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health, in a news release. "Our goal is to bring forward powerful science to support healthy skin.  For infants and young children, we want to ensure that we can protect their skin, and as it matures, help it be resilient and prevent skin conditions."

It was also observed that while the maternal microbiome diversity remained consistent, the children in the study had a richer, more diverse microbiome and changes in the microbiome were a function of body site and age.

"The increasing richness and diversity in the skin microbiome of children is due to the evolution of the microbial ecosystem on a skin surface that is actively developing," says Dr. Capone.  "In the first years of life, infant skin has a more permeable barrier, less total lipids, and is more hydrated than an adult's skin, which may affect the composition of the skin microbiome.  As the child grows, the skin's structure and composition evolve, and along with diet and lifestyle changes, alterations in the composition of the skin microbiome occur."  

The authors enrolled 30 mothers and their 31 children at the start of trial and followed them with continuing participation of many participants over 10 years.  They examined forearms and foreheads at predetermined time points and findings.

Liquid Cleansers and Skin Microbiome

In a second study that evaluated the mildness potential of liquid cleansers and their impact on skin microbiome, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health researchers studied six cleansers with 89 healthy women over four weeks.  The cleansers ranged in pH, or how acidic the solution is, and by type, including mild baby washes, adult facial washes, a restoring cleanser, and a natural castile-based baby wash.

The study authors found that the skin microbiome of the participants was maintained with all six cleaners through four weeks. However, the cleanser with the highest pH had observed clinical effects, including increased transdermal water loss, increased skin pH, and decreased skin lipids which help retain skin moisture.

"Personal care products are used on a daily basis but despite this little is known about how they affect the skin barrier and composition of the skin microbiome with routine use," says Dr. Capone.  "These data indicate that properly formulated cleansers can be gentle to the skin barrier and microbiome in adults."

Researchers in this evaluator-blinded, randomized clinical trial examined the forearm of participants at baseline, and then after 2 and 4 weeks of treatment.

The dermatological community can gain access to all 15 Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health abstracts through the AAD VMX portal.

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