The Skin Microbiome
What is a BIOME?
The human body is an amazing machine and is made up of a multitude of ecosystems. These ecosystems house a microbial universe (various micro biomes) which contain cells, bacteria, fungi and viruses. Even though we are lead to believe viruses and bacteria are bad, dirty words, there are also good strands which help to keep our bodies ecosystems and chemistry running as effectively as possible. When our bodies are looked after i.e. fed well, exercised regularly and toxic substance avoided the body is in most cases able to maintain its regular self and its ecosystems. However, there are times when free radicals enter these ecosystems and disrupt the bodies ideal state thus increasing inflammation and altering the bodies chemistry causing ill health.
One of the bodies micro biomes is found on the skin. A micro biome is simply all the microorganisms present on the skin i.e. sharing the same place. Research has shown the important of protecting the gut micro biome for healthy body function but it is now becoming apparent that we also need to protect the skins micro biome as well. Scientists have found that skin problems such as acne, eczema and rosacea are due to disruptions of the skins micro biomes due to lifestyle influences.
Just as the use of antibiotics disrupts the micro biome in the gut, so too does the use of antibacterial products on the skin. Environmental agents such as cosmetics, harsh cleansers, soaps and medications all are having an ill effect on the micro biome of the skin. Over washing can make these issues worse by destroying the natural population of Propionibacterium causing undesirable bacteria that disrupt the skins biome. When colonies of Propionibacterium are reduced Corynebacterium and staphylococcus epidermidis invade and researches note that acne breakouts, rosacea and eczema seem to follow.
I guess we don’t often think that the skin is a complex biome to be nurtured and protected, it is more often than not just thought of as a static surface that needs to be cleaned and stripped of natural oils. This mentality is having a negative effect on skin health and possibly even our immune system!
We need to respect the skins micro biome and stop assaulting it… It is time to restore those healthy skin bacteria. Throw away the antibacterial soaps and cleansers and look to alternatives that protect, repair and nurture the skins biome.