Skin is more than just beauty. It's also essential to and a reflection of our overall health. When we think of skin, we often don't think about what it's made up of and why these elements are important. We only pay attention to the outside. Because after all, the skin is the outermost and largest organ on our bodies, right?
Well let's get into what's important to the skin's health. A balanced diet, exercise, adequate sleep, and hydration are all important. But there's one thing we don't give enough credit to: the skin's microbiome.
What is the Skin Microbiome?
The skin's microbiome consists of the trillions of bugs that live on your skin, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Sounds gross, doesn't it? Well, some of these bugs are also residents of your gut microbiome to help with digestion. So these bugs are there for a reason. Let's take a look at why.
Why is it Important to Our Health?
Your skin's microbiome plays a vital role in the overall health of your skin. If the natural harmony of your skin's microbiome is disrupted, this can lead to moisture loss. As a result, environmental aggressors and allergens have a better chance of penetrating the skin. Dryness and redness can occur. Left untreated, this can cause certain skin conditions, including psoriasis, eczema, and acne.
The skin's microbiome is also important because it:
- Protects the body from pathogens. The bacteria that naturally live on the skin, known as resident bacteria, form a protective barrier with fungi and viruses to keep transient bacteria -- from the environment -- out.
- Forms the skin's acid mantle. Pathogens can't tolerate an acidic pH, and as a result, won't survive in such conditions.
- Keeps inflammation down. A healthy skin microbiome and immune system communicate regularly. So when the natural microbiome is upset by certain triggers, the immune system releases various antimicrobial peptides to protect the vulnerable skin. Plus, the bacteria in the skin can prevent the immune system from releasing inflammatory compounds.
How to Protect Your Skin Microbiome
So now that you know what the skin microbiome is and why it's important to your health, you can focus on how to protect it and keep it healthy. But before we do that, let's explore some factors that can damage your skin's microbiome:
• Harsh soaps
• Incorrect or overuse of antibiotics
• Harsh skincare products
• Environmental factors
Environmental factors and the need to take antibiotics may be out of your control. But there are other things you can control to protect your skin microbiome. And that's what you choose to put on your skin.
So one of the easiest ways to protect your skin microbiome is to stop using harsh skincare products that upset your skin's pH. For example, soap has alkalinizing properties, which is what helps to remove dirt and microbes. This sounds good, but it's not ideal for your skin because soap washes off those beneficial microbes. This makes it a lot easier for pathogens and allergens to penetrate the skin. So it's important to use products with a higher pH and that contain milder surfactants, which allows your skin to retain its natural oils even after frequent washing.
You can also keep your microbiome in check by using hand sanitizer sparingly. While it's important to practice good hand hygiene, it's just as important to let the good bacteria stick around on your skin. Try using hand sanitizer that contains aloe vera, which will help retain your skin's microbiome. Regularly moisturizing your hands after washing and sanitizing also helps protect your skin.
For more information on the best products to use for your skin, reach out to us. Don't be shy!