In the past decade, research on the microbiome has completely boomed. Each one of us carries trillions of microorganisms in the form of bacteria, viruses, and fungi on our skin. There are so many that we actually have more bacterial genes than human genes in our bodies. The microorganisms live in our gut, nose, mouth and, to a great extent, also in the skin.
You have probably heard about the gut microbiome or the gut flora and maybe some of you have tried fermented vegetables or are strict about your breakfast containing prebiotic fibers?
Research on the skin microbiome is still in its early stages, but we are currently taking small steps towards understanding it better. The gut microbiome affects the skin and we today know the importance of balancing your skin microbiome. Skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and rosacea appear to be linked to microbiome imbalance (1–5). A concern is how all the products we apply to our skin daily affect the skin microbiome. In 2019, for the first time ever, a scientific congress was entirely devoted to the skin microbiome and our Chief Scientific Officer Johanna Gillbro had the privilege to attend the congress that took place in Boston. The concern of cleansing our skin and applying skincare with high concentrations of preservatives, i.e. bactericidal substances, on our skin was brought up. In April 2019, a new article was published by an Indian research group in International Microbiology (6) in which the authors of the article strongly question the application of skincare products containing an excessive amount of preservatives. They believe that this could be a contributing cause of the increasing amount of skin conditions, such as acne and eczema, that we have encountered over the past 50 years.
Cited from the article: Current cosmetic products contain unreasonable amounts of preservatives that kill our own microbiome when applied to the skin. No one would start drinking disinfectants every day as it is clear what this would do to our gut microbiome. It is about time we as a society try to change the approach to skincare.
One can expect to hear more about this topic in the future since we are just opening the door to the bacterial revolution. This means that we should begin to cooperate with our microorganisms - instead of counteracting them. It is time to get to know the skin's own microbiome and treat it well.
1. Picardo M, Ottaviani M. Skin microbiome and skin disease: the example of rosacea. J Clin Gastroenterol [Internet]. 2014;48 Suppl 1(December):S85-6.
2. Rocha MA, Bagatin E. Skin barrier and microbiome in acne. Archives of Dermatological Research. 2018.
3. Dreno B, Martin R, Moyal D, Henley JB, Khammari A, Seité S. Skin microbiome and acne vulgaris: Staphylococcus, a new actor in acne. Exp Dermatol. 2017;
4. Kong HH, Segre JA. Skin microbiome: looking back to move forward. J Invest Dermatol [Internet]. 2012;132(3 Pt 2):933–9. Available from: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=3279608&tool=pmcentrez&rendertype=abstract
5. Muszer M, Noszczy??ska M, Kasperkiewicz K, Skurnik M. Human Microbiome: When a Friend Becomes an Enemy. Archivum Immunologiae et Therapiae Experimentalis. 2015;
6. Ram H, Dastager SG. Re-purposing is needed for beneficial bugs, not for the drugs. Int Microbiol. 2018;
Int Microbiol. 2019 Mar;22(1):1-6. doi: 10.1007/s10123-018-00049-x. Epub 2018 Dec 11.
Re-purposing is needed for beneficial bugs, not for the drugs.