The continual advancements in major technological sectors and their immediate relevance to society has led to significant changes in the way people interact in their homes and in society. Similarly, and consequently, advances in science have considerably improved our ability to study microorganisms and have brought about major developments in characterising microbial symbiotic populations in our body (microbiota) as well as the environment. The availability of antimicrobial technologies has led to improvements in hygiene and has introduced a new standard in developed and developing countries. It has been suggested, however, that improvements in hygiene, may have contributed directly or indirectly to a rise in our tendency to develop allergic diseases (atopy). In this review we will provide the most up to date evidence that will shed light into a new perspective surrounding this theory. We will provide insights into current research focusing on the role of hygiene especially in regard to the hygiene practice improvements made recently in industrialised society. Furthermore, we will discuss the evidence surrounding the reasons behind the unprecedented rise in atopic disease in relation to existing hygiene trends, particularly in domestic settings. This review will finally address the question whether a reduction in public hygiene would be beneficial for public health and relate this to current research evidence.
Author(s): Richard Hastings and Michail H. Karavolos