Your skin microbiome plays a major role in your skin health. When it’s out of balance, inflammatory skin conditions can occur. But the good news is that you can take steps to care for your skin microbiome through lifestyle adjustments.
What is the Skin Microbiome?
The skin microbiome is home to trillions of bacteria, fungi, and viruses—skin flora that live on the surface of your body. The skin microbiome works in conjunction with the immune system to keep the skin healthy. When your skin microbiome is populated by a diverse colony of bacteria, it’s in balance, and your skin functions as it should. But when pathogenic bacteria takes over, eczema and other inflammatory skin conditions can flare.
Imbalanced Skin Microbiome Warning Signs
You may be wondering how you know if your skin microbiome actually needs correcting in the first place.
Luckily, there are some signs and symptoms you can look for to determine whether your skin flora is out of whack.
Some signs of imbalance in your skin microbiome include:
- Flaking skin
- Slow wound healing
- And more
Restoring the skin’s microbiome starts with realizing it is imbalanced, so if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it may be worth digging into ways you can help balance your skin microbiome.
Biome Skin Care: 5 Tips to Restore Balance
Some familiar skincare habits can actually negatively impact the bacteria living on your skin’s surface. Over-exfoliating and choosing products with harsh ingredients can upset the community of microbes that keep your skin healthy.
But it’s not only your skincare and beauty products that can alter the skin microbiome. Certain lifestyle habits have a way of affecting the balance of good and bad bacteria on your skin, too! Here’s what you can to nurture the good bacteria on your skin.
1. Spend Time in Nature
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans spend over 90% of their lives indoors. This information shows that we’re not getting significant exposure to plants, fresh air… or dirt. Why does this matter? Soil represents one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. It’s home to a wide variety of bacteria, viruses, fungi, archaea, and protozoa.
A small December 2020 study illustrates how exposure to such diversity can positively impact our own human health. When participants interacted with urban green spaces by digging in the dirt, brushing up against the plants, and, of course, breathing in the air, the diversity of their skin microbiomes increased.
An increase in the skin microbiome diversity predicts more positive health outcomes — meaning it’s important we prioritize time in nature to help diversify the bacteria on our skin.
Whether you opt to start gardening or just choose to lie in the grass, spending time in nature tends to have positive health benefits your whole body will love.
2. Sweat It Out!
Working up a sweat during your workout doesn’t seem like it would be good for your skin. - especially since sweat can make eczema itchier. However, while the perspiration sits on the skin, it helps build up the skin microbiome, because sweat contains the antimicrobial peptide dermcidin that helps protect your body from harmful germs. Now, we’re not saying you shouldn’t rinse off after sweating…because you should! But just know that breaking a sweat not only has mental, physical, and emotional health benefits, it may also be strengthening for your skin flora.
3. Take Care of Your Gut
Have you heard of the gut-skin axis? It’s the term researchers use to describe the relationship between your gut and your skin. Studies show that the health of your gut microbiome greatly affects the homeostasis of the skin. Because of this connection between the two, taking care of your skin also means you need to take care of your gut.
You can support your gut microbiome by eating a healthy, whole food-based diet, avoiding processed foods, drinking plenty of water, avoiding overconsumption of alcohol, supplementing with prebiotics and probiotics, and getting plenty of sleep at night.
4. Be Mindful of How You Shower
The beneficial microorganisms living on your skin are thought to feed off the naturally occurring oils on your skin. When you over-shower, you can strip your skin of these oils and potentially harm your skin microbiome. Think about it: Most of us shower with harsh, drying soaps in hot water for a fairly decent amount of time… and probably at least occasionally exfoliate.
We said it before, and we’ll say it again. You don’t need to stop showering. That’s not our advice! Simply take a look at your own showering habits to see if you may be over-sanitizing your skin. There is such a thing as too clean. To help protect your skin’s natural oils, use a minimally formulated soap or body wash. Don’t later up all over: restrict your soap use to the parts of your body that get sweaty or smelly. You can also take shorter shower and shower in lukewarm (not hot) water.
5. Minimize Stress
Busy, stressed… and itchy? Research shows psychological stress has the ability to impact the skin microbiome. It’s no wonder then that there’s a strong connection between mental stress and eczema flare-ups.
How exactly stress impacts the skin microbiome is unclear and complex. We do know that when you’re in a stressful situation, your body enters fight-or-flight mode. This response causes an increase in adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormones). When your body creates excess cortisol, set off an inflammatory response. And we know inflammation plays a big role in upsetting the skin microbiome.
Stress is unavoidable, but having proper tools to deal with it can help. Managing stress is highly personal, so it’s important to figure out what works best for you. You may want to try exercising, meditating, journaling, spending time with friends and family, and ensuring you get enough rest.
Rebalance Your Skin Microbiome with Gladskin with Micreboalance®
If you’re experiencing dry, itchy, irritated skin, you may have an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in your skin microbiome. Thankfully, with some simple changes, you can restore balance to your skin flora.
Both Gladskin Eczema Cream and Gladskin Eczemact™ Soothing Cream for Babies and Kids contain Micreobalance®, Gladskin’s patented protein that restores bacterial balance to the skin microbiome to support its natural healing process. Learn more.