THE SKIN MICROBIOME
I talk alot about the gut’s microbiome, the thriving collection of bacteria within our gut that works to protect our gut lining, plays a role within our digestion and communicate with our immune system. However there is now more research and interest in bacterial micro – organisms living within and on the rest of the body. These bacterial colonies function in multiple ways and are vital within our body, even areas previosuly thought as “sterile” such as the lungs or placenta actually have their own mini eco- stsyems. It seems that we are more bacteria than we thought.
We are still learning and understanding the complex role and interaction between our bacterial collections and our nervous, immune and digestive systems however it seems clear that our bacterial “you” is an extension of ourselves. Working to protect our bodies as well as communicate with our bodily systems. Our skins bacterial ecosystem or “microbiota” plays an integral role in the immune network and has been implicated in regulating our skin cell cycle, it is therefore vital for the integrity and health of our skin.
The skin’s bacteria is our body’s first line of defence and has direct communication with the external environment and is therefore the most affected by the ecosystems which we live in. Disturbances to our natural bacterial balance through harsh chemicals, antibacterial’s and less exposure to biodiversity damages the skin’s protective ability. We need thriving, biodiverse bacterial communities to protect the skin and communicate with our immune system. Resident bacteria are capable of reproducing when the skin is healthy, however when the skin microbiota is compromised by internal or external factors we can loose this and pathogenic bacteria can start to populate. This can lead to conditions like acne and atopic dermatitis.
Probiotic skincare and particularly prebiotic skincare, prebiotics feed the probiotic bacteria already situated, acts as a boost to the microbiota adding protection and diversity. Studies indicate that they are particularly useful for those with conditions like atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema and acne where changes in the skin microbiota directly correlates to symptoms severity. Supporting the skin’s bacteria through probiotic and prebiotic skincare is therefore really beneficial for these conditions but also for the majority of us as our ecosystem biodiversity is often compromised by our exposure to antibacterials.