What is the skin microbiome and why balance is important?

“The skin microbiome is a whole community of microorganisms, including thousands of species of bacteria that live and help us to keep healthy both inside and outside our body,” explains Dr Zac Handler, Dermatologist Consultant.

Made up of both good and bad bacteria, a healthy microbiome is balanced, but problems can manifest when bad bacteria dominate.

Abigail Williams, National Education Manager at Claudalie, says, “When this balance is disturbed, the barrier function can be damaged, and the skin’s immune system weakened. Skin disorders linked to an unbalanced microbiome can occur.”

Over-cleansing the skin can unbalance the microbiome. By stripping the skin of its natural microbiome barrier, both the good and bad bacteria are removed. “This then can leave the skin vulnerable to pollutants, infection, and dryness,” says Dr Zac Handler, Dermatologist Consultant.

Inflammatory conditions such as atopic dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis can be associated with an unbalanced skin microbiome. But, when it comes to skin issues, there may be other factors at play. Those with chronic skin conditions should always seek professional advice. 

Abigail Williams, National Education Manager at Claudalie points out, “We still don’t know whether the unbalanced microbiome will sustain the inflammation and therefore these disorders. This is why rebalancing the skin’s microbiome is key to achieving visibly healthier-looking skin.”

The experts all agree that a probiotic-laced skincare regimen really works, from keeping a healthy bacterial balance in the skin, to treating all flare-ups and skin breakouts no matter how severe.

Are there any risks associated with prebiotic or probiotic skincare products?

Dr Wisam Alwan, British Skin Foundation Clinical Research Fellow, says, “Our skin and its microbiome can be influenced by skincare products, and everyone’s skin is unique. Finding the right product, which ensures adequate skin hydration and optimum conditions for our good bacteria to thrive is important.”

Most probiotic skincare products contain inactivated bacteria, and research continues to discover which live bacteria are the most beneficial, without the risk of causing infections.

Dr Alwan adds, “Probiotic skincare is less likely to cause any issues, although anyone with sensitive skin should use any new products with caution and perform a ’test patch’ on a small area of skin before using widely.”

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