The increasing relevance of biofilms in common dermatological conditions

J Dermatolog Treat. 2018 Mar;29(2):202-207. doi: 10.1080/09546634.2017.1360989. Epub 2017 Aug 9.


Background: Biofilms are diverse groups of microorganisms encased in a self-produced matrix that offers protection against unfavorable conditions and antibiotics.

Methods: We performed a literature search using the MEDLINE electronic database. Only original articles published in English were considered for review.

Results: Biofilms have been implicated in the pathogenesis of acne, eczema, hidradenitis suppurativa, onychomycosis, miliaria, and impetigo. Adverse dermal-filler reactions are also linked to biofilms. Strict aseptic technique and prophylactic antibiotics are recommended in order to avoid such complications. Finally, biofilms are implicated in wounds, mainly chronic and diabetic, where they impede healing and cause recurrent infections. Several novel anti-biofilm agents and wound debridement have been shown to be beneficial.

Conclusions: Biofilms are a significant cause of disease with wide implications in the field of dermatology. Several novel treatments have been found to be effective against biofilms, depending on the underlying microbes and type of disease.

Keywords: Biofilms; acne; dermal fillers; eczema; wounds.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / complications
  • Acne Vulgaris / pathology*
  • Acne Vulgaris / therapy
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • Debridement
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / complications
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / pathology*
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / therapy
  • Humans
  • Staphylococcal Infections / drug therapy
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Staphylococcal Infections / pathology
  • Staphylococcus aureus / physiology
  • Wound Infection / complications
  • Wound Infection / pathology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents