Diabetes changes the cutaneous microbiota, making healing more difficult
Compared to the general population, the skin of diabetic patients harbors a less rich cutaneous microbiota, which is likely to prevent chronic wounds from healing.
Diabetes, a real healthcare crisis, is characterized by elevated blood sugar, due to the insufficient production of insulin or the development of insulin resistance in the body. In addition to complications that affect the heart, kidneys, eyes, blood vessels, and nerves, diabetes affects the skin, which becomes drier and increases in pH. This observation led Australian researchers to investigate the impact of diabetes on the cutaneous microbiota and, as a result, the healing process, which is seriously jeopardized in diabetic patients.
They compared the cutaneous flora of diabetic patients with that of healthy people, with a particular focus on the microbes colonizing a foot ulcer during the healing phase.
Although the primary groups in the cutaneous microbiota were the same in diabetic patients, the disease affected their diversity. Diabetic patients had a dramatic drop in microbial diversity compared to healthy subjects, which was even more dramatic in the ulcer.
According to the authors of the study, this lower level of diversity in the cutaneous microbiota could lead to greater vulnerability to infections; extrapolated to diabetes, this theory suggests that the changes in the cutaneous microbiota could be a contributing factor to making these chronic wounds so hard to heal.
Gardiner et al. (2017), A longitudinal study of the diabetic skin and wound microbiome. PeerJ 5:e3543; DOI 10.7717/peerj.3543