Skin Microflora

Skin MicroFlora Image
Skin microflora is a delicate balance of bacteria and fungi, which feeds from our sweat, sebum and dead skin. They do not harm the skin because they need the skin in order to survive. In return they protect us from hostile bacteria and fungi that can cause itching, redness, excess scaling, red spots and irritation.Recent studies show that the first barrier of our body is formed by billions of friendly and beneficial microorganisms living on our skin. These microorganisms are called skin microflora or skin microbiota. They adapt to our natural skin conditions like pH levels, humidity and temperature. Our skin, and these friendly organisms live together in perfect harmony. Beneficial microorganisms (saprophytic flora) inhabit the skin surface, leaving no place for foreign and hostile organisms (pathogenic flora).When a harmful foreign organism wants to settle down on our skin it encounters several serious problems:
  • The skin conditions are in favour of the friendly organisms and restricts the ability of harmful ones to grow.
  • Beneficial organisms are present in high population. They eat all the food available leaving nothing for the harmful organisms to eat, and therefore restricting their chances of growth.
The existence of the skin microflora depends on the survival of the beneficial organisms which highly depend on the skin conditions. The slightest disturbance in skin conditions endangers the population of friendly and useful organisms. When they are diminished, harmful bacteria have a chance to grow and take their place. After a while friendly organisms have less of a chance to survive, and harmful organisms now determine the skin conditions. These conditions are not in favour of our beneficial bacteria which will further reduce their population. Eventually the first defence barrier is gone and the consequences are:
  • More harmful bacteria penetrate into the skin
  • The skin defence system is alarmed and produces more and more oxidising components to kill the harmful bacteria. Excess oxidation destroys healthy skin cells, leading to redness, itching and irritation.
  • The destruction of healthy skin cells leads to destruction of the skin barrier.
  • The destruction of the skin barrier leads to more penetration of foreign substances such as harmful bacteria.
  • These changes lead to infection and inflammation
When our protective micro-organisms are reduced, their place can be taken by hostile organisms, such as C albicans which is a harmful yeast responsible for vaginal yeast infection. The skin or mucous membrane can feel uncomfortable, or become red and itchy. In more advanced states this can lead to infections. Keeping the balance is critical for female intimate area, sensitive skin, elderly skin, and the skin of people living with diabetes. Disruptions in the delicate balance happen because of:
  • Use of harsh chemicals like powerful detergents which can remove the beneficial flora, Alkaline soaps which change the pH of skin and leads to the destruction of skin flora.
  • Personal care products can change the pH of skin. Preservatives in these products can destroy friendly organisms.
  • Medications, especially antibiotics which destroy friendly organisms.
  • Ageing reduces sebum secretion which results in less protective organisms.
  • Hormonal changes in pregnant woman.
An effective solution is to make the friendly organisms stronger against changes in the skin balance by introducing prebiotics into our skin care regime. Prebiotics are food supplements for friendly organisms, while harmful organisms cannot use prebiotic as a food source. Even when the natural balance is disturbed, in presence of a prebiotic, friendly organisms can recover and grow faster than the harmful.Prebiotics can:
  • Help prevent itching, redness and inflammation
  • Help maintain and restore the skin barrier
  • Help prevent mal odour