Neutrophils: What are they and what do they do for the Skin?


The human body is an intricate system held together with various parts, which respond differently to ensure it functions smoothly. In case of an emergency, such as an illness or injury, the body has different systems ready to respond. Precisely the way paramedics arrive immediately after an accident. Similarly, the immune system has its own responders known as neutrophils.

What are Neutrophils?

They are essentially white blood cells. Though there are four different types of white blood cells, neutrophils are the most abundant. They exist within the bone marrow for most of their lifetime. 

What’s their Role?

Organs, cells and tissues constitute your immune system. White blood cells monitor and guard your lymphatic system and bloodstream. If there are inflammations or infections, special chemicals alert neutrophils (mature ones) which leave the bone marrow and reach the place in need. The whole motive is to protect your body from foreign materials known as antigens like viruses, fungi, bacteria and cancer cells. 

What Makes Them Important?

The reason neutrophils are essential is that, unlike some other cells or blood components, they can move easily through the walls of the veins and enter into the tissues directly to attack the antigens. They do not have any restrictions related to a specific area of circulation. 

How Do Neutrophils Help with Skin Problems? 

Since skin problems often result in inflammation, neutrophils play a significant role in helping heal them. That’s because the primary responsibility of neutrophils is to attend to the causes of inflammation inflicted on the body. 

They are usually the first to arrive at the site, spurred by the immune system. Neutrophils usually perform various defence mechanisms that fight against possible invaders, such as bacteria and foreign substances. 

Neutrophils are effectively infection containers. When in the region of concern in the body, they release a substance known as cytokines, which spurs on inflammation. 

Although this sounds counterproductive, it actually leads to a process known as vasodilation. It makes room for bigger immune cells, which then arrive to solve the problems. 

They can also form a net-like structure that then engulfs pathogens, and this is usually how granules get to work on the harmful invader. 

What Does the Neutrophil Count Mean?

Any imbalance in the neutrophil count can mean major changes for the immune system. They can be high or low, depending on several factors. Your doctor can get vital clues related to your health through the levels. 

Low Neutrophil Levels 

For instance, a low neutrophil count can cause a condition known as neutropenia. It reveals itself in the form of unforeseen infections across the body, all of which hint at a weaker immune system. In these kinds of cases, doctors often ask for blood tests to diagnose the condition.

It can occur due to several factors such as a genetic disposition, as a side effect of chemotherapy or through viral infections. Even vitamin deficiencies, in some instances, can lead to a lower neutrophil count.  

High Neutrophil Levels 

Another extreme side of the imbalance in the neutrophil count is a high value referred to as neutrophilia. It generally occurs when the body is busy fighting any form of bacterial infection.

Often this indicates a sign that doctors look for in blood tests to affirm an infection within the body. One of the main reasons why blood tests are often necessary for any form of diagnosis. They are generally the red flags that doctors look for.

A high neutrophil count can signify numerous underlying conditions that doctors can narrow down. These include appendicitis, which does not show outward in many ways, leukaemia or even signs of high stress levels. 

Can a Low Neutrophil Count Cause More Skin Issues?

With a low neutrophil count, your chances of contracting diseases and infections highly increase, including skin conditions like arthritis and other autoimmune diseases. It can be a scary prospect, but any weakness in the immune system and its response always results in such situations. Since the immune system provides much of the skin’s protection, it can suffer from a low neutrophil count.

Summing Up

To maintain a healthy body and immune system, it is crucial to have the right balance of neutrophils. Having either higher or lower levels can pose a threat to your overall health. It can act as an indicator for underlying conditions. In some cases, you could require hospitalisation as well. Do opt for regular wellness checks to avoid any issues beforehand. If you have queries related to your neutrophil count or any other problem, consult a doctor. 


  1. What is a normal neutrophil count? 

A normal count should range from 2500 to 8000 cells per microlitre of blood for both men and women, irrespective of the age group they belong to.

  1. Should you worry about low neutrophils?

Both high and low count, can be worrying. If you have any concerns related to your neutrophil count, discuss them with your doctor immediately. 

  1. What are the cons of neutrophils?

They do not have any cons as such. However, in cases of autoimmune disorders where your immunity is hyperactive, neutrophils cause more harm than good.



Picture of Dr Jisha Gomez

Dr Jisha Gomez

She is a highly skilled dermatology physician with strong expertise in improving skin & hair health through the development of corrective treatment combinations. She completed her Post-graduate Diploma in Dermatology from Cardiff, UK & Fellowship in Aesthetic Medicine (FAM) from the Institute of Laser and Aesthetic Medicine, Delhi with over 5+ years experience treating skin patients. She has worked in Government hospitals in Trivandrum and Bangalore. She is actively involved in creating awareness for healthy skin, breaking the social stigma based on skin colour & stopping steroid abuse in our country.