What is Skin Microbiome and What Happens When it is Unbalanced
- What is Skin Microbiome
- 3 Main Roles of Skin Microbiome
- How to Spot an Unhealthy Microbiome
- 3 Ways to Keep Microbiome Balanced
What is Skin Microbiome
The skin microbiome or sometimes referred to as “skin flora” is the community of different microorganisms that live on our skin and make up an ecosystem. These microorganisms — bacteria, fungi, arthropods, and other microbes — play a vital role in protecting the skin barrier and alerting the immune system of possible threats.
Your microbiota (group of organisms) changes due to certain factors such as age and genetics. One example of why age can change the skin microbiome is when teens go into puberty and produce more sebum that entices pimple causing bacteria to thrive. This is why teens are more prone to acne and inflammation. Other factors that affect the skin microbiome are:
- Medication such as antibiotics
- Environment and Lifestyle
- UV exposure
3 Main Roles of Skin Microbiome
#1. Protection Against External Aggressors & Infections
The skin is the largest organ of the body, and our microbiomes make sure that it has the protection that it needs. A healthy skin microbiome acts as a barrier against pathogens and other external stressors. They help fight off infections and keep the skin acidic to prevent germ overgrowth.
#2. Aids in Immune Defense
The skin microbiome communicates with our immune system and alerts it when there are harmful bacteria that can threaten our immunity. The skin microbiota also removes pathogens that can damage the immune system. Moreover, different studies have expressed the important connection of the skin microbiome and immune system in blocking out UV ray causing skin cancer. However, further studies are still being worked on.
#3. Heal Wounds and Inflammation
The skin microbiome is home to different bacteria, one of which is called S. epidermidis, which helps promote wound healing and decrease inflammation. Since it is believed that the skin microbiome and immune system are connected, experts have suggested that the microbiomes send signals to the immune system to activate whenever there is inflammation and bacterial threat.
How to Spot an Unhealthy Microbiome
An unbalanced skin microbiome is often linked to different skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, acne, or even dandruff. This happens when bad bacteria overthrow the good bacteria and an imbalance or skin dysbiosis happens. Here are ways to spot an unhealthy microbiome:
- Poor wound healing
- Dry and dehydrated skin
- Skin inflammation and skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis
- Acne and blackheads
- Skin ulcers
- Fungal infection
3 Ways to Keep Microbiome Balanced
#1. Avoid Skin Irritants
Pay attention to the products you put on your skin. Harsh soaps or different common irritants such as perfumes or detergents can disrupt the skin’s pH and cause an imbalance in the skin microbiome. Some products can change the chemical environment and may disrupt the natural balance of oil and bacteria on the skin. Pay attention to skincare ingredients or even products you put on your clothes than can potentially irritate the skin.
#2. Eat a Balanced Diet & Take Care of Your Gut Health
Eating a balanced diet is one way to ensure a healthy skin microbiome. Research has suggested that our gut and skin health are connected. Although further studies are still needed to support this claim, it wouldn’t hurt to take care of your gut. Ramp up your prebiotics and plant-based food that are rich in fiber to promote heathy gut health. Check out this prebiotics supplement from Havasu Nutrition.
#3. Stop Over Doing Everything & Improve Lifestyle Choices
Doing things in excess may also be a bad thing. The emergence of covid made most people hyper aware of bacteria and viruses. There is nothing wrong with being clean and hygienic, however, some people over sanitize and over-exfoliate their skin to the point of causing skin dryness and putting your microbiome in overdrive. To prevent that, use a moisturizer and give your skin time to rest from using different exfoliants.
Another thing to look into is changing your lifestyle choices. Here are some lifestyle choices you should consider checking:
- Avoid smoking
- Keep hydrated
- Exercise regularly
- Keep stress level in check
- Get plenty of rest and sleep