It’s not just in your gut where your microbiome resides. Your skin has its own delicate ecosystem, which has to be maintained to ensure the best health for your skin and wider body.
But should you be worried or at least slightly freaked out by the countless colonies of microorganisms that call your skin their home? Below we take a closer look at your skin microbiome to answer this all-important question.
Introducing your skin microbiome
Your skin microbiome is the collective name for the immeasurable amount of microorganisms that live on your skin with harmless and even beneficial results.
Your microbiome contains entire colonies of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and parasites, and the same organisms can be found in the microbiome of your nose, trachea, and digestive system.
Think of it as having your own microbial universe! Amy Myers MD puts the enormity of your skin microbiome into perspective:
“Your skin microbiome — or skin flora — is the scientific term for the trillions of microorganisms that live on your skin.
When your skin microbiome is healthy, there are 1,000 different species of bacteria and up to 80 different fungi species in your skin microbiome.”
For every species of bacteria and fungi, there are thousands more strains, which makes your skin microbiome rather crowded.
All the microorganisms that live on the skin however work together in perfect harmony (most of the time) and collaborate with your immune system to ensure a healthy balance that benefits the entire body.
The many roles of skin flora
The diversity of your skin microbiome is so vast that many scientists consider it an important organ.
The skin microbiome has many roles and works hard to not just preserve skin health but support functions that are critical to the body.
Unlike the bacteria, toxins, and irritants your skin’s acid mantle aims to keep out, the bacteria and other microorganisms found in your microbiome are good for you. In fact, your body needs them to stay healthy.
Like your acid mantle, your skin microbiome acts as a protective barrier to keep the enemy (unfriendly bacteria) at bay.
It uses the slight acidity of your acid mantle to form a hardy defence against all the nasties you encounter every day.
By keeping the bad bacteria out, your microbiome boosts your body’s wider immunity to ensure a happier, healthier you!
A healthy microbiome can work wonders for skin health too. Lack of diversity in your skin’s microbiome can cause dehydration, excess oil, breakouts, inflammation, and redness.
By supporting your microbiome, you can protect your skin and enjoy a healthier-looking, clearer complexion.
This study also uncovered a connection between a healthy microbiome and better sun protection.
Research found that subjects with a certain bacterium in their microbiome were better safeguarded from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
The microbiome and atopic skin conditions
The connection between an unhealthy microbiome and atopic skin conditions has long been established.
Conditions like eczema, and the persistent dry and flaky symptoms associated with these skin problems, diminish the skin’s natural ability to protect against irritants.
The result is a vicious cycle of skin irritation and inflammation, but balancing your skin microbiome may provide the answer.
Just as probiotics and prebiotics featured in your diet help support the good bacteria in your gut, microbiome friendly skincare products can help bolster the good bacteria on the skin’s surface to alleviate troubling atopic conditions.