Acting as a protective membrane containing the internal organs, the skin is the largest and a crucial organ of the human body. It plays many vital roles such as protection of muscles, bones, and internal organs from the external environment and opportunistic microorganisms. It also provides sensation, detects pain, distinguishes hot from cold and regulates the body temperature by sweating. Skin acts as a resistant barrier so essential nutrients are not washed out of the body. It stores lipid and water and helps with the synthesis of vitamin D. Just like the heart, brain and gut, this large organ commands significant attention. Beside from protecting it from the sun, washing, scrubbing, moisturizing it, how well are you taking care of your skin? The skin is such an important organ it is no wonder it needs to be taken care of, for reasons far beyond appearance. Did you know that probiotics are now on the radar for their skin health applications?
How Much Do You Know About Your Own Skin?
Take this ‘True or False’ test to find out how much you know about your own skin.
- The skin is the largest organ of the body
TRUE – Skin is considered an organ, and as such, it is the largest organ of the human body. The average adult has approximately 21 square feet (2 square meters) of skin, which weighs approximately 8 to 9 pounds (3.5 kilograms). The skins contains over than 11 miles (that’s about 17 kilometers) of blood vessels.
- The skin is the first line of defense
TRUE – The skin epidermis, the outermost protective body’s layer, acts as the first line of defense. It contains specialized immune cells and, like a natural shield, offers protection against foreign microorganisms. The second layer, the dermis, contains sweat glands, producing sweat to help cooling off and getting rid of anything the body does not need. Another type of gland in this layer produces oil which keeps the skin soft, smooth, and waterproof.
- The skin is home to less than 100 species of bacteria.
FALSE – In fact, the skin host over 1,000 species of bacteria, distributed amongst 1 trillion different bacteria; this variety and density of life living on us comprises the skin microbiota. These bacteria are for the most part harmless and helpful to the immune system. The skin microbiota ‘defends’ the body and help keep the opportunistic microorganisms away. Bacteria can play an important part in promoting skin health.
- Half of the dust in a house is dead skin
TRUE – Indeed, it is estimated that half of house dust is made up of dead skin cells. The average person has about 300 million skin cells. Every minute, the skin sheds about 30,000 to 40,000 dead cells. New skin cells are made at the bottom of the epidermis and make their way to the top layer which then flakes off. The skin is an ever-changing organ renewing itself every 28 days and becoming more fragile as its ages.
- Everybody’s skin ages the same way
FALSE – As skin ages, it becomes thinner, decreases in volume and elasticity, is more easily damaged and less able to heal itself. A validated comprehensive grading scale has categorized the clinical findings of skin aging as laxity (sagging), rhytids (wrinkles), and the various facets of photoaging, including erythema (redness), and telangiectasia, dyspigmentation (brown discoloration), solar elastosis (yellowing), keratoses (abnormal growths) and poor texture. Every skin age at a different pace, with various visible signs of aging – this is normal.
- There is a link between skin health and overall health
TRUE – Skin appearance and skin changes can sometimes reflect the status of overall health. Several human clinical studies showed links between skin disorders and gut disorders [O’Neill, 2016]. Chronic inflammation can change the skin’s pH levels, and changes in diet or poor diets in general, among other factors, can create an imbalance in the skin microbiota, resulting in infections or skin conditions, such as acne, eczema, and rosacea. Other clues can signify an excess of stress, sleeping issues, or serious conditions such as diabetes or early signs of cancer. Paying close attention to skin changes is a way to pay attention to its overall health. In the same way skin care and preventive actions are accessible ways to help take care of overall skin health.
- It’s during nighttime that the skin ages the fastest
FALSE – A good night’s sleep is a valuable skincare secret. At night, the skin repairs itself, producing collagen, essential for skin elasticity and strength. Without this regeneration period the skin would produce cortisol, therefore increasing inflammation and giving the skin a puffy, pallid, floppy appearance.
- Probiotics can prevent skin aging
FALSE – Although they can not help someone look forever young, specific probiotic strains have demonstrated some benefits to support healthy aging. An increasing body of evidence suggests that skin care products with probiotics, prebiotics, and postbiotics may help rebalanced the skin’s microbiome, leading to further health benefits.
- Probiotics can benefit sensitive skins
TRUE – A combination of strains can maintain gut barrier integrity, promote immune health, and support a healthy dermic state in cases of sensitive skin. [Ellis, 2019]. Other than probiotics, vitamins can be beneficial to keep a healthy skin, such as vitamin A to act on skin damage and cellulite. Vitamin D, to support a healthy dermic state, vitamin C regenerates vitamin E and provides sun protection and vitamin E which works as antioxidant, protects against sun damage and aging.
- Skin health is a small market
TRUE AND FALSE – U.S. beauty supplements sales market increased around 61% from 2018 to 2019 ($144 million in 2018, $89 million in 2017). 55% of people show an interest in skin health products, even without experiencing skin disorders and 13% of people declare taking pre- and/or probiotic enriched food/supplements to improve skin health. Skin health market is a niche but increasing market [Active nutrition survey, FMCG Gurus Data]. In the last couple years, several companies have developed skin microbiome care lines.
Probiotics are live bacteria that support the healthy bacteria in the body. Increasing research results suggest that using probiotics, in both oral and topical form, may help promote skin health, in the short term and as it ages.
- O’Neill, C. A., Monteleone, G., McLaughlin, J. T., & Paus, R. (2016). The gut‐skin axis in health and disease: a paradigm with therapeutic implications. Bioessays, 38(11), 1167-1176.
- Langkamp-Henken, B., Rowe, C. C., Ford, A. L., Christman, M. C., Nieves, C., Khouri, L., … & Dahl, W. J. (2015). Bifidobacterium bifidum R0071 results in a greater proportion of healthy days and a lower percentage of academically stressed students reporting a day of cold/flu: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. British Journal of Nutrition, 113(3), 426-434.
- Ellis, S. R., Nguyen, M., Vaughn, A. R., Notay, M., Burney, W. A., Sandhu, S., & Sivamani, R. K. (2019). The skin and gut microbiome and its role in common dermatologyic conditions. Microorganisms, 7(11), 550.