What Disrupts the Skin Microbiome?
Here at Dermala, we’re all about the skin microbiome – studying how it works and how to keep it healthy.
After all, we know that great, modern skincare has to include taking care of the many diverse microorganisms that live on the skin and help keep it healthy, hydrated, and acne-free.
That means understanding not only how the microbiome keeps the skin working the way it should, but also why and how the process occasionally breaks down.
So, if you’re struggling with keeping your skin happy and healthy, we’re here to help. Let’s take a closer look at the factors that can upset the skin microbiome – and what you can do to put things back into balance.
How Does the Skin Microbiome Work?
First, let’s tackle what the microbiome looks like when everything’s working.
Your skin microbiome is a collection of microorganisms – like bacteria, fungi, and viruses – all living together on your skin. (Yes, right this second, your skin is teeming with microscopic little buddies.)
In the right numbers, your microbiome helps your skin stay healthy and protect against new bacteria that might want to come in and cause infection or otherwise wreak havoc. But certain bacteria—C. acnes, for example—can overgrow and clog your pores, cause acne breakouts and even stoke the fires for more serious skin disorders.
That’s why it’s important to take care of the good guys by keeping your microbiome in balance.
What Factors Can Affect Your Microbiome?
Now that we understand the skin microbiome, we can dive into the things that knock it off-balance.
High-glycemic foods are the ones that raise your blood sugar. Think white bread, soda, and pastries. The trouble is, as your gut breaks these foods down, it converts them into hormones that tell your skin’s sebaceous glands to start working overtime. They start producing too much oil, and the next thing you know, you have an acne breakout. Keeping these foods out of your diet is a great way to mitigate these risks.
We’ve all heard the common refrain at the end of commercials for medications: “Side effects may include…” Well unfortunately, antibiotics are just as effective at killing off the good bacteria in our bodies as they are at killing off the bad ones.
Multiple studies in recent years have demonstrated the effects of various antibiotics on the skin microbiome. A 2017 study saw that topical antibiotics can alter the resident skin bacteria for several days after application, leaving the skin vulnerable long after the medicine has treated the initial infection.
Without an abundance of good bacteria on the skin, it’s much easier for harmful strains of staphylococcus or S. aureus to colonize on the skin, which can lead to infection.
High Stress Levels
Chronic stress can have powerfully disruptive physical effects. Among other things, it leads your body to release excess levels of cortisol, a hormone that impacts your skin’s oil production, leading to acne breakouts. In fact, studies have shown that if you’re prone to acne already, stress can make it worse.
One of the many ways illness occurs is when too many bad bacteria overwhelm the good ones. Scientists call this imbalance dysbiosis.
When your body experiences dysbiosis—even from something as simple as food poisoning—you feel it in your microbiomes. You might experience gut symptoms like an upset stomach or abdominal pain from inflammation, or you might see it in your skin.
The wrong bacteria can wallop your sebaceous glands. Sudden acne breakouts or dry skin are common as your body tries to get its systems up and running again.
However, the healthier your gut and skin microbiomes are—the more good bacteria they have on hand—the better your body is equipped to fight off those harmful interlopers.
Chemicals from Skincare Products
Things like soaps, moisturizers, and hand sanitizers can contain some pretty harmful chemicals if you’re not careful. Generic and even some name-brand products often contain surfactants—chemical compounds that help liquid components blend together.
However, surfactants can kill off the good bacteria that call your skin home, leading to irritation in the skin itself as well as increased risk of infection.
How to Protect Your Skin Microbiome
Understanding that last point in particular is why Dermala uses a probiotic approach to skincare.
Everybody’s skin microbiome is unique, which is why our personalization tool helps you choose the right products to keep your specific skin microbiome in balance.
The right products, in combination with a healthy diet and a careful approach to managing stress, can go a long way toward making sure your skin microbiome is working properly—and bring you the happy, healthy, clear skin you deserve!