Your skin microbiome? You got it from your mama

July 31, 2022
Natalise Kalea Robinson

How did you get your skin microbiome? You got it from your mama.

Research studies demonstrate that mothers and their children have a relatively similar skin microbiome as compared to unrelated individuals. Children demonstrate undifferentiated skin microbiome during the initial 24 hours after birth. These microorganisms begin to differentiate in different areas of the body, thus, giving rise to site-specificity. This phenomenon is evident within three months after birth. 

Mothers begin to transfer their skin microbiome to their children at the time of their birth. This is the reason why children born via vaginal delivery have a varying degree of magnitude and complexity of skin microbiome as compared to those children who are delivered via cesarean section (c-section). Children acquire bacteria while passing through the birth canal of their mothers, specifically acquiring the microbiome from the vaginal canal and perianal regions, and then through direct contact with their mother’s skin. On the contrary, children delivered via c-section only acquire their microbiome from their mother’s skin, which is, on its own, less diverse. 

Studies show that a well-developed and diverse skin microbiome educates, moderates, and strengthens the immune system early on and can protect the child from a wide variety of infectious diseases. 

Nonetheless, as the child grows, the mother and other family living in the household influence the child’s skin microbiome via direct skin-to-skin contact. The complex diversity of the skin microbiome during childhood plays a crucial role in the development of a person’s skin microbiome and immune system, overall. 

What’s a skin microbiome?

Your skin is the largest organ in your body and it’s colonized by a diverse set of microorganisms – this ecological system is called your skin microbiome. When your microbiome is in balance, these microorganisms don’t cause issues. Rather, they are beneficial for the skin microenvironment and work for you! That is, a balanced, healthy skin microbiome is a crucial part of your immune system, providing protection against pathogenic bacteria, viruses, and fungi. When your skin microbiome is imbalanced, we called that dysbiosis, and in this scenario, your skin health can be compromised, which can lead to different skin issues like acne, eczema, rosacea, accelerated aging, redness, hypersensitivity, itching, light spots, body odor, and more.

Here’s a fun side fact – folds and crevices in different areas of the body serve as distinct and specialized niches for the growth and inhabitation of different microbes. You can think of these special environments as mini microbiomes, very much like you would think about different microclimates within one city. These mini microbiomes also need to be in balance, otherwise you may experience skin issues in those particular areas.

Optimizing your skin microbiome

To support your immune system and overall wellness, health, and appearance of your skin, you can improve your skin microbiome through precision microbiome products, as well as more general microbiome-friendly products. 

  1. Targeted Phage

If you understand your skin microbiome and which bacteria are causing your issue and imbalance, you can use a new, innovative approach with targeted phage-based products. Targeted phages can reduce the offending bacteria (often strains of Cutibacterium acnes or Staphylococcus aureus, which cause inflammation and can be often observed in acne and eczema cases, respectively). Unlike benzoyl peroxide and antibiotics, phages can leave the rest of your skin microbiome intact, which is a very good thing.

How does this happen? Phages are microbes that infect one type of bacteria, but leave the other good bacteria alone. You can think of phages as a natural, precision antibiotic. For every bacterium, there is a phage that can kill it. Parallel is developing a line of highly effective phage-based products to target specific bacteria that works for your skin microbiome type.

Phages have an advantage in that they are 100% safe, effective, and enable the good bacteria to grow naturally.

  1. Probiotics

Probiotics for the skin can also be helpful. While there might be engraftment problems (that is, they might not always stay on your skin), applying probiotics can promote the antimicrobial properties of commensal organisms including Staphylococcus epidermidis and Staphylococcus hominis. These bacteria release antimicrobial peptides that interfere with the colonization of pathogenic Staphylococcus aureus (often correlated with issues like severe dryness and eczema). Reduced colonization by pathogenic organisms results in healthier, clearer, more resilient skin. 

Probiotics specifically containing Staphylococcus epidermidis and Lactobacillus plantarum can also combat the overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria associated with the onset of acne, infection, and other dermatologic conditions. This leads to improved skin barrier function, decrease in the concentration of lesions, improves erythema, and reduces the pathogenic bacterial load. 

  1. Improving your Gut Microbiome

You can also improve your skin microbiome by taking care of your gut microbiome. Your gut microbiome is usually acquired as a baby during breastfeeding and develops as you grow older with more complex microorganisms colonizing the gut environment. A healthy diet leads to the normal functioning of the skin-gut axis and improved function of the immune system. Thus, supporting your gut microbiome with foods rich in nutrients that you need and are right for you will go a long way with your skin!

Want to learn more about your skin microbiome, how you got it, and how to optimize it? Reach out to us at hello@parallelhealth.io.

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About Parallel

A parallel world lives amongst us: the microbial world. This world impacts not only our lifespan, but also our healthspan. 

Our mission is to empower people with real science to make meaningful decisions to improve their healthspan. 

Parallel is a clean, science-based skin microbiome health company providing effective, personalized skincare, powered by genomics.

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