How to soothe skin inflammation by healing your skins microbiome
The trillions of microbes that live in and on our bodies – the microbiome – seem to have taken centre stage in the health and wellness world. And the skins microbiome is no different, as it can play a massive role in how your skin looks and feels.
What is the skins microbiome?
Your microbiome is made up of trillions of bacteria but also fungi, viruses, and other microbes. These microbes are not merely passive bystanders; they actively interact with our cells and tissues, shaping our physical and mental health in ways we are only beginning to understand.
Imagine trillions of tiny organisms living in and on your body, forming a powerful ecosystem that is unique to you. An exciting world is opening up, with new opportunities for effective treatments. This includes potentially new and powerful microbiome skincare.
The gut microbiome – in addition to its role in digestion and nutrition – interacts with our immune system, helping to train and regulate its responses.
What’s more, it is also involved in the production of molecules such as neurotransmitters. These molecules influence our mood and mental well-being.
Did you know your gut microbiome and skins microbiome are closely linked?
Crucially, your gut microbiome and skin microbiome are closely linked. These microbiomes work together to influence your skin health – for better or worse!
For me, getting to know about these two microbiomes, and how we can influence the way they work, has been a game-changer for how my skin looks and feels.
Your skins microbiome and inflammation
You might recall that inflammation is your body’s natural response to injury or infection. It is an essential process for healing. However, excessive inflammation can have a very negative effect on your skin.
Several factors can trigger skin inflammation. For example, exposure to irritants, allergies, infections, and autoimmune disorders.
Also, imbalances in the skins microbiome can contribute to chronic inflammation and skin conditions.
The impact of microbiome imbalance on skin inflammation
When your skin microbiome is disrupted, harmful bacteria can multiply, leading to inflammation. This can trigger and worsen conditions such as acne, rosacea, psoriasis and dermatitis.
The gut-skin axis
The gut microbiome and the skin microbiome are closely connected. Scientists call it the gut-skin axis, and it plays an important role in inflammatory skin conditions.
This ‘axis’ influences several processes in our bodies, such as the:
- Production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) by gut bacteria. SCFAs may have anti-inflammatory effects and regulate the balance between immune cells that stimulate or suppress inflammation
- Intestinal barrier, which prevents the leakage of harmful things from the gut into the bloodstream. A damaged intestinal barrier can trigger systemic inflammation and affect your skin
- Release of neurotransmitters and hormones by the gut bacteria, which can affect the nervous system and the skin. For example, serotonin, a neurotransmitter molecule involved in mood and stress, is mostly produced by gut bacteria and can affect inflammation
Your microbiome responds to diet and lifestyle. Environment, genetics and medications (especially antibiotics) also play a role.
A plant-rich diet, such as the Mediterranean-style diet, can promote a healthy and diverse gut microbiome, which in turn benefits the skin.
How your skins microbiome affects skin health
The skin microbiome inhabits different regions, such as the face, arms, and legs.
Within the skin microbiome, the diverse array of microorganisms interact with each other and with your skin cells, forming a complex network of interactions that influence skin health.
Imbalances in the skin microbiome can lead to various skin conditions, including acne, eczema, and psoriasis. The interaction between the microbiome and the skin’s immune system plays a crucial role in maintaining skin health and preventing these conditions.
Acne is often associated with an overgrowth of a specific bacteria called Cutibacterium acnes. While this bacterium is naturally present on the skin, an overgrowth can lead to inflammation and the development of skin conditions such as acne.
Maintaining a balanced microbiome can help prevent the overgrowth of this bacteria and reduce the risk of acne.
There are several probiotics that have been found to act against Cutibacterium acnes, which is the main bacterium targeted for the prevention and medical treatment of acne vulgaris.
Here are some of the probiotics that have been studied:
- Lactobacillus plantarum: This probiotic has been found to have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory activities against C. acnes
- Lactobacillus acidophilus: This probiotic can modulate the skin microbiome and improve skin symptoms such as atopic dermatitis
- Bifidobacterium breve BR03 DSM 16604, Lacticaseibacillus casei LC03 DSM 27537, and Ligilactobacillus salivarius LS03 DSM 22776: This blend of probiotic strains has been shown to be effective for acne
- Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus gasseri, and Lactobacillus lactis: This blend of probiotic strains has been found to significantly inhibit the growth of C. acnes
The probiotic Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Probiotics for Women contains a mixture of Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei (also called Lactobacillus casei), Lactobacillus gasseri and Bifidobacterium breve, among others.
Eczema, on the other hand, is a chronic inflammatory skin condition characterized by dry, itchy, and inflamed skin. Research has shown that individuals with eczema often have an imbalanced skin microbiome, with a decrease in beneficial bacteria and an increase in harmful bacteria.
Restoring the balance of the skin’s microbiome through targeted treatments may help alleviate eczema symptoms.
Psoriasis is another skin condition that has been linked to imbalances in the skin microbiome. It is characterized by the rapid turnover of skin cells, leading to the formation of thick, red, and scaly patches.
What’s more, studies have found that individuals with psoriasis have different skin microbes compared to those without this skin condition.
If we can shape the skins microbiome, we may be able to better treat skin conditions such as psoriasis.
Modulating the skin microbiome for healthier skin
The growing understanding of the skin microbiome has opened up new possibilities for maintaining and improving skin health.
Managing the microbiome offers a promising approach to managing and preventing inflammatory skin conditions.
How can you improve your gut microbiome and skin microbiome?
Research shows that what we eat, in effect how we feed the microorganisms in and on our bodies, will have a profound effect on skin health and overall well-being.
A plant-rich diet, such as the Mediterranean-style diet, can promote a healthy and diverse gut microbiome, which can benefit the skin.
Consider adding probiotic foods such as live yoghurts, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi.
So, how to balance the skins microbiome?
Several lifestyle and skincare factors can help maintain a healthy balance in the skins microbiome. These include gentle cleansing, avoiding harsh chemicals, nourishing the skin with probiotic-rich products, and promoting overall skin wellness through a balanced diet and stress management.
What are some examples of probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics that can benefit the gut-skin axis?
A good quality supplement can help modulate your skin microbiome and boost gut health, a powerful combination.
These probiotic supplements and skin care products feature evidence-backed microbiome boosting ingredients that can help improve how your skin looks and feels by optimizing your skin microbiome:
For further information about which probiotics are backed by experts:
The future of skin care: Microbiome friendly skin care products
The field of skincare is rapidly evolving, and the skin microbiome has become a focus for innovation.
Research into the microbiome continues to expand and its role in skin inflammation continues to advance. What’s more, the relationship between our skins microbiome and inflammatory skin conditions offers new avenues for prevention and treatment, revolutionizing the way we approach skincare and redefining our understanding of healthy skin.
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Everyone today is familiar with gut flora and the role of its billions of microorganisms in digestion and immunity. What few people know, however, is that the health of our skin also depends on a living ecosystem: the skin microbiome. Rich in a trillion bacteria and other kinds of microorganisms, it not only acts as a shield against external aggressions, such as UV rays and pollution, but it also forms a genuine ecosystem with our skin. These bacteria, yeast or viruses play an essential role in our organism, by constantly interacting with our cells. “The microbiome is a key player in the health of our skin, so it is essential to take care of it,” confirms Luc Aguilar, director of clinical and biological research for L’Oréal R&I.
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