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Article: The Microbial Marvel. Understanding the Importance of a Healthy Balanced Microbiome on Human Skin

The Microbial Marvel.  Understanding the Importance of a Healthy Balanced Microbiome on Human Skin

The Microbial Marvel. Understanding the Importance of a Healthy Balanced Microbiome on Human Skin

For the squeamish reader look away now because I am about to get up close and personal. Really up close!  As we know our skin is our first line of defence against the outside world. Its ability to protect us from harmful pathogens and maintain a barrier against environmental stressors is remarkable. But did you know that this superhero-like ability is largely attributed to the trillions of microbes that call our skin home? The human skin microbiome, a complex ecosystem of bacteria, fungi, and viruses, plays a pivotal role in ensuring the health and resilience of our skin. In this blog post, I will explore the latest science that is uncovering the significance of a healthy balanced microbiome on human skin and its far-reaching impacts on overall well-being and how best to protect this intricate ecosystem. 

A healthy skin microbiome is a dynamic and diverse collection of microorganisms that reside on the surface and in the deeper layers of our skin. These microorganisms coexist in harmony with our skin cells, forming a delicate balance that helps regulate various physiological processes. The most prevalent inhabitants of the skin microbiome are bacteria, and some of the most common species include Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, and Corynebacterium. Additionally, fungi, such as Malassezia, and viruses, like bacteriophages, contribute to the microbial community on our skin.

Much like our gut flora supports a healthy body, maintaining a balanced skin microbiome is essential for optimal skin health. A harmonious microbial community helps to protect against pathogens.  It acts as a protective shield, preventing harmful pathogens from colonising the skin. By occupying the available niches, beneficial microbes effectively crowd out potentially dangerous ones, reducing the risk of infections.

A harmonious microbial community enhances the skin's barrier function and is crucial in preventing excessive water loss while shielding us from external irritants.  Imbalances in the skin microbiome have been linked to various skin conditions, including acne, eczema, and psoriasis.  A diverse and balanced microbiome helps to regulate inflammation, keeping these conditions at bay while playing an active role in promoting wound healing by stimulating cell proliferation, tissue regeneration, recruiting of immune cells, expediting the recovery process.

There are several factors that can disrupt the delicate balance of the skin microbiome, leading to an imbalance. 

  • Hygiene Practices like the overuse of harsh soaps and antimicrobial products and excessively hot water bathing can disturb the skin's microbial community, causing an imbalance.  
  • Aqua (water) as its main ingredient in a number of skin products. Any water-based product is going to need chemical preservatives to prevent bacteria from growing in the product.  Bacteria thrives in water so manufactures of aqua based products or aqueous creams need to fill these products with chemical preservatives like parabens or Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT).  These preservatives keep bad bacteria out of the product but they do not discriminate and end up on your skin killing off the healthy microbiome.   
  • Emulsifiers are used to combine Aqua (water) with the seed and plant oils used in most skin care products. Emulsifiers have been shown to favour the growth of potential pathogens. 
  • The indiscriminate use of antibiotics, sanitisers and chemical antibacterial products can also disrupt the balance between beneficial and harmful bacteria, leaving the skin susceptible to infections. 
  • Petroleum laced products act like a layer of plastic on the skin suffocating the microbes that call our skin home.  
  • Products with parfumes and perfumes themselves with alcohol carriers and chemical based deodorants and antiperspirants also impact the delicate balance. 

So how do we nurturing a healthy skin microbiome?  Fortunately, there are several steps we can take to promote a healthy balanced skin microbiome. 

  • Gentle Cleansing, opt for mild, pH-balanced cleansers that do not strip the skin of all its natural oils.  Use soap, shampoo and shaving foam that is free of preservatives and sodium lauryl sulfates and perfumes.
  • Moisturise with a natural Tallow Skin Food, with its all-natural fat profile that is an almost identical match to the skin’s sebum. With no artificial preservatives it will feed the skins microbiome working like a probiotic for the skin. Even with its naturally moderate antibacterial and anti-fungal properties that help keep harmful pathogens at bay. It can also be used as a natural deodorant, while supporting a healthy skin microbiome.

  • Limit Antibiotic and Antimicrobial and Steroid use: Use judiciously and only when prescribed by a healthcare professional.

The skin microbiome is an intricate ecosystem that deserves our attention and care. A balanced and diverse microbiome is essential for maintaining healthy skin and protecting us from a myriad of skin conditions. By understanding this cutting-edge science and the significance of nurturing our skin's microbial allies, we can embark on a journey towards radiant skin and overall well-being. So, let's embrace and appreciate the microbial marvel that lies on the surface of our skin!

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