You’ve all heard of good bacteria, right? It’s the stuff you should have in your gut which makes your digestion system work properly and basically keeps you healthy. I really hope you have heard of it; if not, have you been living under a rock??
Well, hopefully you know about good bacteria in the tummy, but you also need to know about good bacteria on the skin. This is quite a new subject for me, and as with all skin-related things, I like to go away and get to know more. I’m nosey like that.
So in a nutshell, good bacteria on the skin equals healthy skin. Yes, that’s right, we actually need bacteria on our skin. So put away that ridiculous anti-bacterial hand wash and gel!
An imbalance of one particular strain of bacteria or not enough variety of bacteria on the skin equals skin problems such as psoriasis, eczema, rosacea and acne.
What’s going on?
Staphylococcus is the most common bacteria found on our skin, and just the right amount is good. If it is just living on the skin, there is a component within it (lipoteichoic acid) which prevents inflammation. Prolonged inflammation to the skin causes diseases like psoriasis.
Other common bacteria on the skin are streptococcus, Propionibacterium and corynbacterium. There is so much going on with our skin, there is millions and millions of microbes on there and the exact mix will be individual to you, and probably similar to those you live with.
If you are experiencing skin problems, you could think about how to get the balance of good bacteria back. Using too many cleaning products around the home is terrible for our health, if you remove too much bacterial diversity, your skin and your health will suffer. In some circumstances we should go the GP to get skin problems sorted – this is particularly important if you have a skin infection. But ongoing, can we minimise skin issues by getting our skin bacteria balance just right?
I mentioned above that we should put away anti-bacterial hand gels and the like (I can confirm that in our family, we absolutely NEVER use them and we are hardly ever ill). It is also true that we shouldn’t wash our skin too much, we need the oils that are naturally present on our skin, and washing too much not only removes our necessary natural skin oil (sebum) creating dry skin, but also removes too much good bacteria. When my eczema is sore, I do wash slightly less and it definitely helps. When I do bathe, I use a little bit of bath oil in the water and I hardly use soap (and the soap I do use is just an organic, handmade one). We really don’t need to wash all the time.
I found the most fantastic article http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-to-support-healthy-skin-bacteria/ and here’s what he suggests, “Get a dog. Dog owners have less eczema, most likely since dogs tend to roll around in everything they encounter and rub against us any chance they get, thereby increasing the microbial diversity of our homes and mixing their rich skin bacteria with ours. Dogs are filthy, and that’s probably a good thing.”
I love this idea, as I have two dogs and they go everywhere we go, including sleeping on our bed, yes that’s mucky, but as I said before, we are hardly ever ill.
So is the answer to eczema and other skin problems ensuring we are all just a bit more mucky? I hope so. I can leave the housework for a few more days…
I got some of my information for this blog on these websites: