Can Your Skin Ever Be Too Clean?
A2 Aesthetic and Anti-Ageing Magazine|Dec 2020/Mar 2021 – Issue 35
Revisiting how we think about cleanliness and bacteria could be the key to improving overall skin health. Clean is good, but you can have too much of a good thing, writes DR JUANITA KILLIAN.
Dr Juanita Killian

We are all familiar with the old saying that cleanliness is next to godliness, yet a new movement is suggesting the sanitization of our modern lives could be doing more harm than good. Talks of ‘rewilding’ or reconnecting with nature are cropping up, and just like the interest in ‘good bacteria’ for the gut before it, the focus is now on the skin microbiome. As allergic reactions and inflammatory conditions such as eczema and psoriasis continue to rise, attention is shifting towards the idea of a healthy bacterial balance on the skin – and how it can not only protect the skin but also help to repair it.

The microbiome, in essence, is a community of organisms that live on the skin, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It is a finely tuned ecosystem that controls our skin health and, much like gut bacteria, it can have farreaching consequences.

Alarmingly, our modern hygiene practices contribute the most towards an unhealthy skin microbiome. Modern hygiene practices literally start by having hot water piped into our homes and using antibacterial surfactants every day. This already places your skin microbiome under constant pressure, as the skin is quite acidic. So, suffice it to say, the skin microbiome already has some adjustments to do.

What’s more, every time we take a hot shower, we are removing sebum (the oily substance on our skin that is largely responsible for its moisturization), as this waxy matter melts at a temperature of 2628°C (while the average shower runs at around 40°C). This makes our skin more vulnerable to inflammation.

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