Skin Microbial Imbalance
In Dr. Fitzgerald’s own words “If you’re addicted to “clean”, you could be damaging your skin microbiome. Take soap, for example. By its very nature, it’s alkalinizing. That’s how it works to remove dirt and microbes. But recall that our skin microbiome prefers a pH of about 5. At this relatively acidic pH, the healthy microbiome thrives. It’s also understood that the opportunistic bacteria — the dysbiotic players — do better at a higher, more alkaline pH. And soap has a pH of about 10! Thus, we may actually be damaging our microflora with soap and setting the stage for increased risk for skin issues.”
What else can affect the skin microbiome?
A recent study showed that kids who hand-wash dishes have a lower incidence of allergies compared to those in families that use a dishwasher. That sounds paradoxical but the authors speculate this has to do with the benefits of skin exposure to the microbes on the dirty plates.
Hand sanitizers, topical steroids, and internal medications (such as antibiotics, oral steroids, acid blockers, and nonsteroidal pain relievers) can also directly or indirectly damage the skin microbiome. Plus, anything damaging to your gut microbiome or immune system will likely also influence what’s happening to the skin.
Finally, while there is less research in the area of toxins and the skin microbiome specifically, we can infer that parabens, phthalates, sulfites, and others are also likely damaging.
Here’s what else you can do to keep your skin microbiome healthy:
- Eat, drink and think healthy. Listen to your body.
- Identify and remove foods which trigger symptoms.
- Take care of your gut with the use of prebiotics and probiotics
- Minimize the use of hand sanitizers and soaps.
- Work up a sweat a few times a week.
- Keep your stress levels in check.