The Skin and Gut Microbiomes: Their Interplay and Influence on Psoriasis
Psoriasis, a common skin disorder, leads to red, flaky, crusty patches of skin covered with silvery scales. Though the underlying cause of psoriasis is complex and involves genetic and environmental factors, the microbiota residing within and on us, specifically in our gut and skin, play a considerable role.
A Deeper Look into the Skin Microbiome
The skin microbiome represents a vibrant community of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses, that inhabit our skin's surface. This microscopic ecosystem has a crucial function in shielding us from pathogens, maintaining the skin's pH balance, and supporting immunity. The skin microbiome in individuals with psoriasis, however, often deviates from those without the condition, potentially contributing to the inflammation and flakiness characteristic of this disease.
The Gut Microbiome and Its Influence on Skin Health
Our skin is home to a diverse range of microbes, and similarly, our gut also houses a complex microbial environment known as the gut microbiome. These microorganisms have a fundamental role in digestion, immunity, and even our mental health.
The "gut-skin axis," a term describing the intricate relationship between the gut and skin microbiomes, has gained attention in recent years. An imbalance in the gut microbiome, characterised by a decrease in beneficial bacteria and an increase in potentially harmful ones, may contribute to psoriasis.
Studies indicate that individuals with psoriasis often have a different gut microbiome composition than those without the condition. Specifically, they tend to have lower levels of beneficial bacteria, such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus, and higher levels of potentially harmful ones. This imbalance, known as dysbiosis, may encourage inflammation, thereby exacerbating psoriasis symptoms.
Leveraging Probiotics in Psoriasis Management
Probiotics, live beneficial bacteria that can help restore a healthy gut microbiome, have shown promise in managing psoriasis symptoms. By augmenting the population of good bacteria in the gut, probiotics can potentially rebalance the gut microbiome, thereby influencing the gut-skin axis and improving psoriasis.
Research has demonstrated that specific strains of probiotics, such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium lactis, can be beneficial for individuals with psoriasis.
While supplements provide a convenient method to incorporate probiotics into your regimen, they are also naturally present in various fermented foods. Including these in your diet can be an effective way to support your gut microbiome.
Yoghurt: Often the first food that comes to mind when we think of probiotics, make sure to choose yoghurts that contain live cultures and avoid those with high sugar content.
Kefir: A fermented milk drink, kefir is rich in various probiotic strains and can be an excellent addition to your diet.
Sauerkraut: Made from fermented cabbage, sauerkraut is not only a good source of probiotics but also rich in fibre and vitamins.
Kimchi: This traditional Korean side dish made from fermented vegetables, predominantly cabbage, is full of beneficial bacteria and also adds a spicy kick to meals.
Miso: A Japanese staple, miso paste, made from fermented soybeans, barley, or rice, can be used to prepare soups and sauces.
Tempeh: Another product of fermented soybeans, tempeh is a meat substitute loved by vegetarians and vegans alike, and a good probiotic source.
Kombucha: This fermented tea is a trendy beverage full of probiotics.
Improving the Skin Microbiome: Skincare Products and Beyond
Today, several skincare products incorporate probiotics, prebiotics (food for beneficial microbes), or postbiotics (beneficial compounds produced by microbes) with the aim to support and balance the skin microbiome. Here are some examples:
Aveeno Dermexa Daily Emollient Cream: One of our partner brands that includes technology to address the dryness and itchiness associated with psoriasis.
Mother Dirt AO+ Mist: This product contains live probiotics to restore the balance of the skin's microbiome.
Gallinée Probiotic Hydrating Face Cream: Incorporates a patented complex of prebiotics, probiotics, and post-biotics to support the skin's good bacteria.
Holistic Lifestyle Changes for Psoriasis Management
In addition to probiotics and skincare routines, other lifestyle modifications also contribute to improving both gut and skin health. These include maintaining a diet rich in fibre, minimising processed food consumption, regularly exercising, and managing stress effectively.
Remember, it's essential to discuss with a healthcare provider before making any significant changes to your skincare routine, diet, or lifestyle, particularly when managing psoriasis.
With an increasing understanding of the interconnectedness of the skin and gut microbiomes, learning to nurture these microbial communities can be a vital tool in managing psoriasis and promoting overall skin health.