By Danne Montague-King
In 2019 microbiome will be yet another trending buzz word with a plethora of cremes claiming to restore the microbiome of the skin to help revise reactive skin conditions.
I have researched a few of these and sadly found out it was mostly dried yogurt in a crème with a lot of other things, not bad, but they had nothing to do with the skin microbiome. Some of the future products will be pretty good however as long as the manufacturer understands the real concept behind skin micro-flora.
Just like the gut the skin has its own microbiome that creates a bacterial layer unique to each individual that is integral to optimal skin function.
Let’s start with a basic analysis of skin’s natural friendly bacteria, most are in the gran positive category which are important for creating an environment where flora can flourish. They naturally occur behind the ear lobe and under the orbital bone near the top of the nose.
Chemoorganotrphs: Organisms that get energy from organic material and converts it into other natural materials that open the door to extracellular enzymes. This can include dead skin cells and organic debris collected on the epidermis and turning the poop so to speak into ice cream!
Prebiotics: Can fire up the friendly microbiome colonies located in the for -mentioned areas and reduce the amount of dead keratinocytes (skin cells that produce keratin to protect the surface of the skin). This will allow the healthy bacteria to scatter across the skin killing off unfriendly (gran negative) bacterial overloads.
Probiotics: Are what we want to thrive for an ideal microbiome, which can include many compounds already used in skin care such as lactic acid. They also help maintain the colonies while warding off further attack of unfriendly bacteria and fungus.
This basic microbiome group that I am about to go through is present on healthy skin, but acts differently than the same group in our guts.
Actinobacteria: A gran positive bacteria that is also found in soil, plant decomposition and humus. This may explain why children born in the 50s and who were encouraged to play in the dirt often have healthier immune systems.
Bacteroides Fragilis: Normal flora found in the colon as well as on the skin, Bacteroides Fragilis is a gran negative bacteria that is needed for flora balance but can cause infection if an overload of it takes hold in an open wound. Abrasions to the skin caused by micro needling, micro blading, post-surgery, dermatitis, acne and eczema can all lead to infection.
Firmicutes: Gran negative bacteria, Firmicutes can be a major part of assisting in the skin’s bacterial homeostasis (making sure the skin microbiome is balanced). Its anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties are an important component in reinforcing the skin’s natural sebaceous barrier, which helps to protect the skin.
Proteobacteria: An ultimate predator of gran negative bacteria, Proteobacteria is capable of acquiring cell nutrients that are present or removing toxic debris! It is important to have Proteobacteria present because they are what create a clean environment for the good flora to flourish in. It is a double-edged sword though that has to be carefully regulated with messenger precursors as it can perpetuate the infection further if left unchecked.
The bad guys!
Micrococci: Not a common bacteria but can it be found on people with poor skin hygiene habits have come in contact with contaminating conditions such as dermatitis. Make sure you are following a good cleansing routine, removing all your makeup before going to bed and regularly cleaning your makeup brushes.
Streptococci: A very bad bacteria but thankfully is not usually found on healthy skin. Streptococci is symbiotic to viruses such as herpes and can start in the mouth and spread to the skin and then to areas of another person’s bodies. Lipids, the good fats produced by skin cells, are lethal to this group. Encouraging healthy sebum flow by taking EFA Ultra or by using a fractioned oil resembling sebum like Seba-E or Herbal Pigment Oil are excellent for combating these awful bacteria. Few oils are ‘comedogenic’ (block the pores causing blackheads) as popularly believed so do not be hesitate to use them.
Malassezia: Fungi naturally found on skin, Malassezia creates dry flaky patches that are sometimes mis-diagnosed as eczema. You can tell the difference by the more brownish hue of the inflamed skin rather than the normal redness of eczema. Malassezia can also cause hypo and hyperpigmentation.
Skin super stars
Lactobacillus: Also found in fermented foods, lactobacillus on the skin limits the amounts of parthenogenic bacteria, parasites (rosacea-causing Demodex mites), and viruses from spreading.
Bifidobacterium: Found in “functional foods” Bifidobacterium promotes probiotic activities and protects against pathogens.
I have a huge respect for people in the field of micro-biology and bacteria as I have contacted colleagues from all over the world to earn more about it when it became clear this would be a trend. I think, like true stem cell research for skin, that we are on the tip of a very large iceberg here—that, if approached properly, without rushing to get products out to capitalise on popular trends, will benefit thousands.
This may change a large section of the industry expanding the revision of skin diseases into the non-medically arena!