Symptoms of unhealthy skin are signs of a number of life factors, genetic and habitual. When & where we were conceived, by whom, and how we developed makes all the difference. As infants within the womb still, we were receiving messages and nutrients all along through our mothers, activating some genes while suppressing others. As we breathe our first breath our insides flood with messages and nutrients, this time with more abundance and ferocity and without a warm protective bubble bath. Nature is a dangerous place, and so rightfully so, bears and bacteria can be injurious and we should be weaned at least to our tweens to face the age of teenism and hopefully reason, which will lead us into adulthood. Most adults, however, have forgot, or simply have not thought, that all our organ systems directly encounter the external environment to some extent and could be considered skin. Our eyeballs are skin, our tongue is skin, the linings of our airways and arteries are skin, while even our intestines and anus as well as urethra or uterus are skin.
Skin can breathe and skin can stretch. Imagine contact lenses suffocating irritable eyeballs all night underneath artificial light, the blackout response to being choked out or drowning, the stench of sweaty socked feet peeled off after a half-day in the sewer or swamp, or dragonflies the size of eagles hunting extinct species in the fossil record. More incredible than the proposed Connectome Project, which is expected to map the human brain, is the Microbiome Project, making strides to map the millions of microbes that both help and harm the systems of a healthy human being. Perhaps the most numerous and diverse populations of microflora inhabit the skin, due to its size, landscapes and surface area, but also because it is the body’s first line of defense against harmful environmental particles and waves. Bacteria and fungi species that you cannot see without a microscope are symbiotically connected to us and we cannot survive without them, which gives great credit to several concepts.
Immunodefecient patients exhibit more permissive skin than healthy controls, meaning they had more diverse inhabitants of harmful bacteria and fungi than beneficial ones.
Staphylococcus epidermidis secretes lipoteichoic acid (LTA), which prevents inflammatory cytokine release from keratinocytes of human skin. Propionibacterium acnes use the skin’s lipids to generate short-chain fatty acids that can similarly ward off pathogenic threats. Other possibilities include species that help promote protection against harmful solar UV or cosmic radiation or influence production of T-cells or antigens. There are a handful of probiotic oils, creams and serums that may help rejuvenate the skin system, but more research is required.
The best insurance remains a diverse diet, playful technical exercise, adequate hygiene practices, and perhaps a quick trip to Vitality Works for expert estheticians who are happy to provide a personalized approach.