Why Germs are Actually Good For Your Immune System

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Ever hear someone tell a child to go wash their hands after playing outside or at a playground park?

Does the above image bring you flashbacks to microbiology class and conjure up images of what you grew in those petri dishes? Well, thanks to Tasha Sturm, a microbiology lab tech at Cabrillo College, she decided to see what was on her sons hands.

She made her 8-year-old son, who had just played outdoors, leave a handprint in a petri dish that was filled with agar jelly. After warming it to body temperature in an incubator, the bacteria and fungus on her son’s hand grew into the cultures that could be seen in an image (above) she posted on Microbe World.

The image is stunning, beautiful and somehow disrupting at the same time.

But don’t be alarmed, Sturm told Today: “It’s normal stuff that we’re exposed to every day. The skin protects us from a lot of the bad stuff out there. The take home message is that to have a healthy immune system, you’ve got to be exposed to stuff.”

So keep living dirty, kids. It’s good for your microbiome and makes for pretty awesome photography.

Here are close-ups of some of the colonies in the original photo:

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(h/t Today)

All images via Tasha Sturm/Microbe World

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