Types of Bacteria Found in Makeup

By Crys James

Your old makeup can become tainted with bacteria and cause you to become ill or develop a skin or eye infection. Your health is a high price to pay for beauty, so change out your makeup frequently to avoid the risk. Makeup testers at the makeup counters in department stores carry the same risk.

You should replace your mascara every three months to reduce the risk of eye infection.

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Staphylococcus Aureus

Staphylococcus aureus, more commonly known as MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus), is a "super bug" and resistant to the antibiotics methicillin, penicillin, amoxicillin and oxacillin. Makeup tainted with MRSA can cause an infection if applied near a cut or mucous membranes of the eyes or nose. Some ways MRSA can appear on the skin are as a red rash, boil or abscess. Makeup should be discarded if it ever smells or changes colors. MRSA infections are contagious and can become severe, even life-threatening. If you suspect an MRSA infection, see your physician immediately.

Pseudomonas Aeruginosa

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a bacteria found in soil, water and environments like hot tubs. It also lurks in mascara and can cause an infection of the eye resulting in pain, redness, swelling and impaired vision. You should replace your mascara every three months to reduce the risk of eye infection. All Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections are treatable. Pseudomonas aeruginosa can also cause pneumonia, sepsis, burn wound infections and meningitis, which are all associated with high mortality rates.

Escherichia coli

Escherichia coli, commonly referred to as E. coli, is often associated with food poisoning; however, it can also be found in old makeup. Lipstick can be tainted with E. coli and, if ingested, can cause severe, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps, followed by serious organ system damage such as kidney failure. Most E. coli infections clear up without treatment, but if you experience these severe symptoms, see your physician immediately.

Staphylococcus Epidermidis

Staphylococcus epidermidis is another member of the staphylococcus bacteria family and is found naturally on the skin of healthy humans. For people with weak, compromised immune systems, this bacteria can cause infection. It has been found on lipsticks, eye shadows and eyeliners. It can cause infection of the conjunctiva (conjunctivitis), cornea or hair follicles on the edge of the eyelid (folliculitis). Some strains of this staph bacterium are resistant to antibiotic treatment and can severely affect the intestines if left untreated.