by Raychel Agramon, RN, MPM, February 12, 2020
When one thinks of bacteria, disease-causing germs immediately come into mind. While this is true, another type of bacteria is making waves – and it’s not because of a bad thing it did. It's the opposite.
Say hello to probiotics, live microorganisms that boast of many health benefits. Apart from helping improve digestive health, they might help you achieve better, clearer skin, among many other things.
Bacteria and Skin Health
While probiotics have been present for decades, they have just taken the mainstage lately. This can be credited to the process of gene sequencing, which has uncovered a wealth of knowledge about these microorganisms and their health benefits.
The results, of course, are expectedly impressive – they show that gut bacteria affect more than just the digestive tract. This is linked to the discovery of the gut-skin-axis, wherein good bacteria are said to affect one’s immunity, energy, disease risk, mood, and weight. Heck, they can even affect the skin!
A study published in the Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition journal has shown that inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, rosacea, acne, and psoriasis can be reduced as long as a healthy bacterial population is maintained. That’s because probiotics can help improve skin barrier function. With these exciting findings, it comes as no surprise why everybody’s clamoring for probiotic-rich food, supplements, even microbiome tests.
What You Need to Know About the Skin Microbiome
A term that is closely associated with probiotics and skin health is the microbiome, which pertains to the genes of microorganisms inside and outside the body. Most of these organisms are present in the digestive tract, however, around 1,000 strains are also living on your skin. Every person has a microbial fingerprint that is different from the others.
The microbiome of your skin works as a barrier; an ecosystem that protects you from the invasion of harmful organisms. It is sensitive enough to be affected by cosmetics, perfume, environmental pollutants, as well as the clothes that you wear.
The ‘balance’ of the skin microbiome is usually affected by disease, as with the case of people living with eczema. Research shows that eczematous skin is ridden with the bacteria streptococcus aureus NOT because of the strength of the pathogen, but because of the failure of the skin’s good bacteria to stop the said germs from populating. Probiotics can likely reverse this through bacterial interference, wherein they work by defending the skin from bad bacteria and other opportunistic microorganisms.
Apart from boosting skin health, probiotic products can also halt oxidative stress, which can lead to cell death. Probiotics may help stop skin aging as well, according to a study conducted by physicians from Rutgers University and the State University of New York.
Want More Proof? Here’s a Good Success Story
It's not just the scientists who have unlocked the benefits of probiotics for skincare. Even regular people such as Shann Nix Jones swear to the effectivity of probiotics for skincare. When her husband’s surgical wound got infected with Methicillin-resistant bacteria, she decided to apply kefir and essential oils directly to his wound. Voila – the infection subsided after two weeks of use!
This was not just a mere lucky guess. Tests were run at the Aberystwyth University and the results showed that Jones’ kefir concoction was indeed effective against the bacteria colonizing her husband’s skin.
Because of this breakthrough discovery, Jones was able to transform her kefir passion into a sprawling business. The result? Chuckling Goat, a store that sells probiotic skincare products for people with skin conditions.
Probiotics for the Skin: A Growing Trend
Jones is not the only one to capitalize on the benefits of probiotics. Major pharmaceutical companies have joined the race as well. Skincare, after all, is a billion-dollar industry. From superfood to supplements – to creams and ointments – there is a probiotic product that can appeal to your liking.
So how do you know if you’re benefitting from the promise of probiotics? First of all, make sure to check the label. Nowadays, most products contain probiotic extracts such as Lactobacilli Lysate and Bifidobacteria Glycoprotein. Some products also contain fructooligosaccharides and xylitol, prebiotics that help feed the good bacteria on the skin. These ingredients, when put together, may help improve skin elasticity. They can help ward off harmful environmental factors too.
The Future of Probiotic Treatment
The global trend that is probiotic skincare surely shows no evidence of slowing down. Quantities are expected to increase, not only from the biggest pharma companies but from the common person's backyard as well (such is the case of Jones' Chuckling Goat.)
Soon, probiotics might be preferred over the usual treatments for acne and rosacea, which are antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications. After all, probiotics are generally safe to use. To top it all off, they do not come with side effects that usually come with the aforementioned products.
In conclusion, probiotic skincare holds so much promise (and zero adverse effects.) What are you waiting for? Hop onto this beauty bandwagon today!
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