Balancing Skin Microbiome - Fact or fiction

The following is an excerpt from a talk given at the Holistic Symposium in Minneapolis, MN on March 12, 2019.

The skin is the human body’s largest organ, colonized by a diverse environment of microorganisms, most of which are harmless or even beneficial to their host. The term “Microbiome” describes a biodiverse ecosystem composed of living biological and physical components that create a balance between host and microorganism. Symbiotic microorganisms occupy a wide range of skin niches and protect against invasion by more pathogenic or harmful organisms. Studies have shown that skin microbiota play an integral role in the maturation and homeostatic regulation of keratinocytes and host immune networks with systemic implications. Disruptions in the balance on either side of the equation can result in skin disorders or infections.

An enhanced understanding of the skin microbiome would gain insight into microbial involvement in human skin disorders and to enable novel promicrobial and antimicrobial therapeutic approaches for their treatment. However, the human skin microbiome varies considerably over time, thus the study of the effect of topical agents on the skin microbiome is wrought with inconsistencies. There is a deluge of skin care products claiming to “balance” the skin microbiome, however, the description of this “balance” is rather nebulous.