Chances are you or someone you love struggles with a skin condition such as acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis or premature aging. Turns out, many of these cases are the result of not having enough good bacteria on our skin and in our bodies. The good news is by putting those microscopic warriors back where they belong, they can clear up skin issues pronto.
Just ask Danielle Fleming. The New Jersey mother of three told CBN News after years of hiding from people, she can finally enjoy her life. She used to dread social occasions because she was so embarrassed about the way her skin looked.
"I was having issues with acne all around my mouth area, kind of patches of dry spots and red bumps and it was just terrible," she said, "I tried covering it up with makeup but it didn't work.'
You Can Be Too Clean
Danielle's not alone. Unsightly skin conditions like acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, and premature aging are on the increase. Health experts now say it's largely due to the destruction of the tiny critters on our skin tasked with keeping it healthy.
Celebrity dermatologist Whitney Bowe told CBN News that only within the last couple of years have scientists fully realized our obsession with cleanliness is doing more harm than good.
"You've got to get a little dirty to have beautiful, glowing skin," she smiled.
In her book, Dirty Looks: The Secret to Beautiful Skin, Dr. Bowe says things like antibacterial soaps and harsh scrubbing tools wipe-out the good bacteria on our skin.
Groundbreaking research uncovered our skin's microbiome. We can't see this vast ecosystem, but our skin's health and appearance depend on its balance.
"A lot of people don't realize that our skin is covered in trillions of microscopic organisms," She explained. "So right after you get out of the shower in the morning when you think you are clean, your body is covered. Again, trillions and they are just swarming through your eyelashes and diving into your belly button."
We Need Good Bacteria on Our Bod
Dr. Bowe says too many people mistakenly believe all bacteria are bad and need to be destroyed. The truth is, some are bad, but lots are good. And we need those good guys because they're the ones who keep the bad bacteria under control.
"We have to learn to love these good bugs," she said, "If we learn to nurture and protect these healthy strains of bacteria on our skin that's really the secret to having beautiful, glowing, radiant skin."
Danielle now understands a big part of her acne problem was the result of over-cleansing.
"Before, I felt the need to take a shower in the morning, take a shower at night, scrub my skin, have a loofah, use the antibacterial soap, suds up really well," she confessed, "I would even rub alcohol on it thinking it would dry it up and get rid of it."
Measures like these often trigger an immune response which can lead to painful, red inflammation.
"I'm not telling people to stop showering," Dr. Bowe cautioned, "I'm certainly not recommending people going to sleep with their makeup on. But I do think there's something to be said for taking a very gentle approach when it comes to cleansing our skin."
While step one is preserving the good bacteria already on our skin, step two involves adding to that number with topical probiotics. She says these items are the hottest new trend in skincare and for good reason.
"There's just a huge surge right now, all of these new products are hitting the market and this trend is not going anywhere it's just going to climb exponentially."
There are many topical probiotics on the market, which Dr. Bowe reviews on her website.
For instance, she likes Mother Dirt AO+ Mist for Face and Body, a product that contains live bacteria you spray on your skin twice daily.
"This brand has found a way to find these bacteria that no longer exist on our skin," she explained. "Through our very hygienic practices over the years, we've killed off these good bugs."
We Also Need Good Bacteria in our Gut
In addition to putting probiotics directly on the skin, Dr. Bowe says beautiful, healthy skin requires taking care of the gut microbiome, the delicate balance of good and bad bacteria in our intestines.
"An unhappy gut leads to unhappy skin," she cautioned.
Nurturing the gut microbiome involves the same two-step process as taking care of the skin microbiome. First, stop destroying the good bacteria, then replenish them by adding probiotics.
Dr. Bowe says a diet high in sugar destroys the good bacteria in our gut. Danielle came to understand that was a contributing factor to her skin problems.
"I was addicted to cupcakes and cookies and chocolate," she said, "And anything that was in the house that I was feeding my kids as a treat I was also eating myself."
Once she realized unhealthy foods damaged her gut microbiome, and by extension, her skin, she changed her diet.
"I stopped eating as much processed sugar, white bread, and I started adding different things to my diet," she explained, "I started taking probiotics, I started drinking kombucha, eating sauerkraut, weirdly enough because that seems to do a lot for your skin."
While skin problems like acne, psoriasis and premature aging are on the rise, they can be reversed by improving nurturing the good bacteria on our skin and in our gut.