What types of bacteria are most common on the hands?

Dear scientist, I am working on my biology profile assignment (VWO 6) on human hand hygiene. The information that can be found on this is quite general. All links indicate that there are hundreds of types of bacteria on the hands. I would like a more specific answer to that if possible.

Asker: Dylan, age 17


On our skin (all over the body in an adult healthy person: +-2 m2 ) a whole series of micro-organisms occur: especially bacteria (Acinetobacter, Corynebacterium, Enterobacter , Klebsielle, Micrococcus , Propionibacterium, Proteus, Pseudomonas, Staphylococcus , Streptococcus, ….. ( , but also yeasts ( Malassezia , .. ); not all of the listed species occur in everyone, some species are more common in children than adults and vice versa, they are also different in males and females Many of them are so-called opportunistic pathogenic species (= possible pathogens), if the individual is weakened, for example is whether the skin is damaged and not cared for .

Healthy dry skin areas (forearm, PALM, ..) mainly contain Corynebacterium, Flavobacterium, Propionibacterium, the group of the “proteobacteria” with, among others. Pseudomonas , and also Staphylococcus ,.. for : personal hand hygiene plays a major role here in terms of numbers . These species are not normally pathogenic. The skin of the hands (and soles of the feet) is also somewhat thicker and firmer and therefore offers more protection than elsewhere on the body.

Answered by

Prof.dr.ir. Eric Vandamme

general microbiology ;industrial microbiology ; fermentation processes ;biocatalysis ;enzyme technology; biochemistry; biochemical technology

university of Ghent



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