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Your Skin & the Microbiome
Prebiotics & Probiotics & for Healthy Skin

microbiome skin

What is Skin Microbiome?

Only about 43% of your body weight is human cells.
The rest? Well it is a “microbiome” made up of bacteria, viruses, fungi and archaea!

Microbiome, also known as microbiota or Skin flora, is a term for the bacteria, viruses, fungi, and microscopic things that coexist in your gut & on your skin.

There are two important microbiomes. The gut microbiome which includes probiotics and “friendly bacteria”.
There is also a less well known microbiome on the skin. Together these microbiomes act like a major organ in your body. The health of both microbiomes is essential for healthy skin.

In this article, we are going to look at how the gut and skin microbiomes work together.[1]


Why is the Skin Microbiome Important?

You just can’t replicate all the good your microbiota [98] does for your skin with creams and vitamins.

They may be the secret to curing or managing skin problems long thought to be almost impossible to cure. Most importantly, both your gut and skin microbiome directly affect the appearance and health of your skin.[0]

So, to protect your microbiome you will need to look at both your stomach and skin microbiota.


Dry Skin, Aging & Intestinal Disease Protection

.. gut microbiome

In a 2014 study rats were given Lactobacillus brevis there was a significant decrease in transepidermal water loss. [24]

In 2014 a 12-week study was conducted on humans to test the effects of bacteria L. brevis SBC8803 supplements. At the end of the study, they found that participants had significantly decreased skin water loss.

Separate studies also found there were big improvements in the skin barrier function. Test subjects who took supplements of Lactobacillus paracasei over a 2 month period had reduced skin sensitivity and water loss. [25]

Test on bacteria L. helveticus also had very positive effects on skin moisturisation levels.

An article, published in Science Translational Medicine presented a study where the gut microbiota of older mice was transferred into the gut of younger mice. [56]

The reseach revealed that this produced an increase in brain neuron growth and altered aging. There was also an increase in levels of butyrate, a fatty acid produced in the gut. This is significant because butyrate is suspected to be very important in the protection against intestinal and extraintestinal diseases. [49]


What Does the Skin Microbiome Do?

A healthy skin microbiome is a protective barrier against skin infections and other common skin problems.

It maintains an acidic environment on the skin which controls the spread of bacteria such as Staphylococcus epidermidis which is at the root of many cause many skin problems. In addition, a healthy microbiome is central to maintaining skin hydration and healing skin damage.

This is why it you need to look after the microbiota in your gut and on the outer layers of your skin.


How to Repair & Heal Your Microbiome

picture of girls face


If you suspect your skin microbiome is damaged and want to heal it you will need a comprehensive plan that covers both how you eat and how you look after your skin.

As we discussed above look at your gut microbiota and review the products that you use on your skin.


How to Protect Your Gut Microbiome

To improve your gut microbiome look at your diet and supplements with prebiotics and probiotics.

  • Eat prebiotic foods [57]
  • Make sure you have fiber in your diet
  • Eat a wide range of foods
  • Gut flora love polyphenol-rich foods [49]
  • Eat some fermented foods such as Kefir, Live Yogurts Apple Cider Vinegar [89]
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners
  • Be careful to take some preventative action when taking antibiotics


How to Protect Your Skin Microbiome

To improve your skin microbiome look carefully at what you are putting on your skin and your cleaning regimen.

  • Avoid Anti-bacterial washes or soaps! No 1
  • Avoid overwashing & Exfoliating
  • Remember your skin should be slightly acidic. Consider PH balanced cleansers & Moisturisers
  • Maintain Hydration Levels ( Drink 2 – 3 litres of water per day )
  • Choose clothes/material to allow your skin to breath not sweat

To put it simply, if your skin flora is not happy, then your skin will not be healthy.

Probiotics and Prebiotics for a Healthy Skin Microbiome

Can You Apply Pre-Biotics / Pro-Biotics Topically?

We see an increasing number of skin-care products in our shops marketed as “probiotic-rich”.

Could applying probiotics topically help improve your skin’s health?

Evidence suggests that your skin’s microbiome is an ecosystem home to at least a million bacteria per square centimetre not to mention fungi, viruses and mites! So, prebiotics and probiotics applied directly as part of a skin-care routine should strengthen your skin’s ecosystem.


Think of a prebiotic as food to feed your skin bacteria.
It is thought that foods contaning high levels of Oligosaccharides that are rich in sugars support health skin bacterial growth.

As it turns out popular natural face-mask ingredients – oats, barley, wheat bran, asparagus, banana or honey are foods rich in Oligosaccharides.

Probiotics on the other hand are sources that contain live bacteria to replce those lost.
They most commonly obtained from foods such as yoghurt or kefir.

A simple Prebiotic Face Mask

You can make a prebiotic/probiotic face-mask with:

1 tablespoon plain full fat yogurt / or kefir
1 tablespoon Argan Oil or Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons prebiotic ingredient [ Oatmeal or Banana or Avocado ]


Mix yogurt ingredients.
Apply to face in small circles.
Leave on for 10-30 minutes.
Wash off with warm water
Rinse with cold water
Then gentley pat dry with a towel


Common Skin Problems & the Skin Microbiome

Studies show that people with Psoriasis and Atopic Dermatitis have less Lactobacilli bacteria on the skin.
So it appears there is quite a clear and direct connection between healthy skin bacteria and common skin problems.


… the gut microbiome

Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin condition.

It is hard to treat because it does not respond well to most know skin treatments. A study of 50,000 Danish patients with rosacea, showed that many types of intestinal disturbances were higher in patients with Rosacea. [2] Furthermore studies found an improvement in rosacea symptoms occurred after eliminating a bacteria known as H. pylori [3]

One important conclusion of the research was that people with gastrointestinal problems who also suffered from rosacea should be referred for an investigation into Helicobacter pylori infection (HPI), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.[4]

… the skin microbiome

In patients suffering from rosacea, the balance of microbiota in the skin has been disturbed.

This imbalance allows otherwise harmless microbes, such as the Demodex mite, to multiply out of control. [51] In fact, it has been found that inflammation of the skin in rosacea closely correlates with the density of mites on the skin. [58] The Demodex mites may also exacerbate the situation by making the skin more susceptible to common causes of inflammation like sunlight, alcohol, hormones, and other bacteria.

It has been shown that regular washing with alkaline soap reduced the Demodex mite population.



.. gut microbiome

The root causes of this life-long problem are rooted in infancy and early childhood.

Not only is eczema closely connected to the correct microbiome development but research is now seeing how it influences other organs, such as the lung, brain, and skin. Possibly uncovering the common link between Eczema and Asthma which often occur together.

Studies found that treatment of the gut with certain lactobacilli in mice significantly changes their overall skin phenotypes – a discovery that may well explain the results of studies into Staphylococcus aureus and Eczema ( see below ). [22] Other observations of patients with Atopic Eczema found a correlation between high levels of gut bacteria – Clostridia, Clostridium difficile, Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus aureus and lower than normal levels of Bifidobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Bacteroides. [22][44]

… skin microbiome

Research in the U.S. uncovered a direct connection between Eczema flare-ups and a skin microbiome imbalance of bacteria Staphylococcus aureus.

They noticed that this bacteria was found in higher than normal concentrations on skin affected by Eczema. They also noted that there were lower concentrations of the cells that assist in building up skin barriers.

By increasing levels of other bacteria on the skin, the levels of Staphylococcus aureus were controlled which prevented flareups. [10]



.. gut microbiome

Studies found that people who have psoriasis of the skin or psoriatic arthritis have a less diverse range of intestinal bacteria.

This also appears to be linked to a higher chance of getting irritable bowel syndrome and gut inflammation.[41] A number of important bacterial types were present in lower than expected levels including – Coprococcus spp. Akkermansia, Ruminococcus, and Pseudobutyrivibrio. [42]

To test these observations a supplement based therapy using Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 was made on psoriasis patients over an eight week period. [43]
The results of the study showed an increase in:

  • C-reactive protein – produced in blood plasma in response to inflammation
  • TNF-alpha – a cell-signaling protein involved in systemic inflammation
  • IL-6 – an anti-inflammatory small protein



.. gut microbiome

It is more than 70 years since dermatologists John H. Stokes and Donald M. Pillsbury suggested the connection between the gut microbiome, emotional states, and acne.

A study was made of 13,000 teenagers suffering from acne. Researchers noticed that those with gastrointestinal symptoms and abdominal bloating were 37% more likely to have acne and other skin problems [35]. The initial observations noted that 40% of those with acne have hypochlorhydria an excess production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. [30] This increased acidity level affects the environment in which beneficial bacteria can flourish.

Unhealthy stomach acid production can lead to “small intestine bacterial overgrowth” [ SIBO]. Specific studies into SIBO and acne vulgaris have not yet been made. However, other studies have shown that patients with acne rosacea are 10 times more likely to have SIBO.

As a treatment for acne, they proposed the use of organisms such as Lactobacillus acidophilus c and Bacillus acidophilus with cod liver oil – a probiotic.

.. skin microbiome

Disturbed bacterial colonies in the skin are thought to be the main cause of acne. [55]

A study of the skin microbiome in healthy patients and patients with acne was made. They found that although the levels of the Propionibacterium acnes were similar in healthy and acne skin that certain “variant strains” were closely associated with acne skin and others with healthy skin.

A strain is a “genetic variant or subtype of a microorganism “.


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