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Want to Keep Your Youthful Skin? Read This Now.


New research has led to a better understanding of how the skin ages. A study found a link between skin microbiome diversity and skin aging. These discoveries may lead to new technologies for keeping skin looking healthy.

Microbiome Diversity Plays a Key Role in Skin Aging

A new study undertaken at the Center for Microbiome Innovation (CMI) at the University of California San Diego (UC San Diego) and L’Oréal Research and Innovation has found a potential link between the skin microbiome and signs of skin aging. The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Aging.

Before we delve into the details of the study, let’s review what the human microbiome is and what it does.

What Is the Microbiome?

A microbiome is a community of microorganisms that live together in a specific habitat. Specifically in humans, the microbiome consists of all microbes, such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and their genes, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). These live on and inside the body, such as on the skin or within the gastrointestinal tract. Within the human microbiome, there are 26 major species which include bacteria, streptococci, and E. coli. These organisms can affect human physiology, both in health and disease.

The Microbiome and Its Effects on Skin Health

One of the most important findings by the researchers was a negative association between microbiome diversity and transepidermal water loss. In other words, its effect on moisture evaporating through the skin.

What the research showed was that separate from a person’s actual age being a factor, moisture evaporation affected giving the skin the appearance of aging.

“The most compelling aspect of the study was that there were indeed taxa that appeared to be linked to the grade of crow’s feet wrinkles, separate from age, despite the strong relationship between wrinkles and age,” said Dr. Se Jin Song, in an interview with Medical News Today.

Dr. Se Jin Song is the director of research at the UC San Diego Center for Microbiome Innovation.


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“This is an exciting starting point for further research that can help us definitively determine whether they [microbiome] actually play a role in the development of wrinkles and what that role might be,” Dr. Jin Song added. “Answering these questions will help pave the path to applications that leverage the relationship between the microbiome and skin health.”

“What researchers are finding is the balance of the good and bad bacteria can change transepidermal water loss,” said Dr. Shilpi Khetarpal, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Shilpi Khetarpal was not involved in the aforementioned study. “Think of a grape turning into a raisin. With our skin, it works the same way. The microbiome can influence the hydration.”

“The microbial markers and aging signs identified in this study will steer future research, enabling the generation of larger, more harmonized data to accelerate our understanding of the microbiome in the context of healthy skin and skin aging,” Dr. Zheng further said. “This work opens doors to new opportunities for discovering technologies that leverage the microbiome for maintaining healthy-looking skin.”

Improving the Microbiome of Your Skin

Dr. Khetarpal made some comments and offered some basic guidelines to help improve your microbiome and achieve healthier-looking skin.

“The microbiome plays a crucial role in maintaining skin health and function,” Dr. Khetarpal said. “Minimize the use of harsh ingredients that will disrupt the microbiome.”

“For example, with normal skin use a gentle cleanser and moisturizer,” Dr. Khetarpal added. “And avoid salicylic acid because it can cause irritation and dryness.”

The Microbiome and Gut Health

Extensive research has already been dedicated to the human gut microbiome and its role in health and disease. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the imbalance of normal gut microbiota has been linked with gastrointestinal conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It has also been associated with wider systemic manifestations of disease such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and atopy. Further, researchers are beginning to link the gut microbiome with allergic and skin diseases.

Research Shows Connection Between Gut and Skin Microbiota

A growing number of studies are indicating the role of gut and skin microbiota in regulating the immune system, alleviating inflammation, and fighting against pathogens.

“I think what’s interesting is in the last several years, there’s more buzz surrounding the skin microbiome when the gut microbiome was previously focused on,” said Dr. Khetarpal. “As time goes on, we’re learning the skin microbiome affects acne, rosacea, aging, and other skin conditions. It’s fascinating. We’re seeing this whole new trend in how we care for our skin and new conditions.”

Read More: Dermatologists Say We Don’t Wash These Body Parts Enough

Foods for Maintaining a Healthy Microbiome

Seek out foods known to be good for the human microbiome, including vegetables, leafy greens, fruits, beans (legumes), grains, seeds, and nuts. Foods naturally high in prebiotics include onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, bananas, seaweed, and dandelion greens.

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