We typically think of skin health as it relates to beauty and keeping a youthful appearance, but it’s also essential to our overall health. After all, the skin is the largest organ in the body, and it plays interference between us and everything outside us.

Making up about 10% of our total body weight, our skin is home to millions of strains of bacteria and fungi that protect our bodies against pathogens and influence immunity and inflammation. Even though there is ongoing research regarding the critical role our skin plays in our immune health, we already know several connections that may surprise you.

What is the skin microbiome?

The skin operates as the external connection of the human body with our environment while also being a physical barrier preventing the invasion of foreign pathogens. The skin microbiome is the unique collection of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that reside on and in the layers of our skin that is in constant communication with the environment to help protect our skin and body. 

Read more about the skin microbiome.

How does your skin microbiome protect you?

Our skin microbiome has many roles to play as a physical barrier in keeping our body healthy. The skin microbiome works with other parts of our skin and body to

  • Fight infection. Healthy skin microbiomes act like natural antibiotics, protecting us from infection by crowding out any overgrowth of pathogenic organisms. The skin microbiome also helps keep the skin acidic, discouraging the growth of pathogens.
  • Communicate with our immune system. Microbes in every layer of our skin help notify the immune system of harmful bacteria or viruses so that the immune system can trigger a healing response.
  • Heal wounds and curb inflammation. When an injury occurs, the skin microbiome signals your immune system to produce a healthy inflammatory response to promote healing. Likewise, the good bacteria in the microbiome can prohibit the release of inflammatory compounds from the immune system.
  • Protect us from environmental invaders. The skin microbiome helps to limit our exposure to allergens and minimizes oxidative damage from our environment. Research also indicates that the skin microbiome can help protect us from harmful UV rays.
  • Absorb nutrients to support a well-functioning skin barrier. The skin microbiome works with the skin barrier to regulate water loss and retain moisture to keep your body and skin hydrated.

The Connection Between Your Skin and Your Immune Health

Emerging research continues to reveal interesting connections between the skin and our health, including how imbalances in the skin microbiome can be linked to chronic inflammatory diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Or that people with immune deficiencies have different skin microbes than healthy individuals.

All of this research tells us that the skin microbiome is essential in shaping the immune system and vice versa.

But what I find even more interesting is that the expanding research on the skin microbiome is giving us a new understanding of the skin’s biology and shifting how we take care of our skin and body. 

The Gut-Skin Axis

The gut is probably the least glamorous thing we could discuss. But the gut makes up 70% of our immune system, and it’s where we make nutrients, detoxify enzymes, metabolize hormones, neutralize pathogens, and make neurotransmitters. And what happens in the gut impacts all of our major body systems, including the nervous system, lymphatic system, blood, organs…and skin.

So, what’s the connection between the gut and the skin?

Well, an increasing number of studies are linking good skin to a healthy gut via what has become known as the gut-skin axis. So, while symptoms of gut health issues can vary widely, the skin is often a good indicator of what’s going on inside the gut. And scientists have found all kinds of links between gut health and skin issues such as

Learn more about the gut-skin connection.

Causes of Skin Barrier Damage

Many factors can lead to skin barrier damage and contribute to dysbiosis of the skin microbiome. These include:

  • Diet
  • Environmental toxins
  • Smoking
  • Dry or humid environment
  • Exposure to hot or cold weather
  • Too much sun exposure
  • Allergens, irritants, and pollutants 
  • Harsh soaps or detergents
  • Excessive washing or exfoliating
  • Sanitizers
  • Medications like steroids or long-term antibiotics
  • Stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Aging
  • Family history

How to Repair and Protect the Skin Barrier

A healthy skin barrier should help keep irritants and pathogens out while locking moisture in, protecting your skin from dysbiosis and other health concerns. That’s why caring for our skin from the inside out is so important. You can preserve, repair, and protect your skin barrier while supporting healthy skin with these steps:

  • Gentle skincare. Good skin care can result in healthy, glowing skin but ensure that you aren’t aggravating your skin. Match your products to your specific skin care needs and incorporate exfoliation where appropriate.   
  • Balanced diet. Incorporate lean proteins, carbohydrates, colorful veggies, and good fats into your diet. Avoid processed foods and extra sugar. 
  • Stay hydrated. Try drinking half your body weight in ounces each day to stay hydrated.
  • Moisturize. Give your skin a little boost with moisturizers,  especially during the winter.
  • Take care of your gut. We know the gut influences skin concerns. Consider taking a daily probiotic or working with your provider to address gut health concerns.
  • Avoid harsh cleansers and sanitizers. Harsh cleansers and frequent use of sanitizers can break down your skin barrier.
  • Exercise regularly. Sweating helps to rid toxins from your body and produces beneficial prebiotics. So find regular movement every day that feels good for your body. 
  • Manage stress. Stress can negatively impact your skin, just like the rest of your body. Find a stress management technique that works for you.

Heal Your Skin from the Inside and Out

Your skin’s appearance reflects your individual state of overall health, age, and environmental factors. Digging deeper to reveal what may be holding you back from achieving the healthy, glowing skin you desire can help you heal your skin from the inside out. 

Join me on a skin healing journey different from anything you’ve done before. 

Discover how to align your skincare with seasonal changes using my SkinClock Method.

Limited spots are available for upcoming sessions. 

Join my waitlist today and discover how to STOP battling the seasonal skin changes so you can have the youthful, radiant skin you desire year round!