How to protect your baby’s skin microbiome

How to protect your baby’s skin microbiome

What is the skin microbiome?

Think of the skin-microbiome as your skin's natural community. It is the diverse beneficial microorganisms that live on the skin surface, also known as skin flora. It plays an important role in protecting the skin from disease-causing bacteria and in the development of a healthy skin barrier. 

When there is an imbalance or disruption in the skin-microbiome, we begin to see problems with the skin. These range from everyday issues like oily and dry skin to chronic ailments like eczema. When we remove healthy bacteria from the skin, the harmful bacteria begins to dominate. 

Several factors can help your child develop a diverse and healthy skin-microbiome, including:

  • Older siblings or pets
  • Vaginal birth with exposure of mom’s vaginal microbes (although C-section is a vital, life-saving procedure!)
  • The environment they are raised in
  • Whether antibiotics were given to mothers during birth or administered to babies

To put it simply, being in a microbial-rich environment is necessary to the development of your child’s skin-microbiome.

Did you know that by the age of 3-4, the skin-microbiome and immune system is established? This means the foundation is laid in the early years, and developing a healthy skin-microbiome then is critical for a lifetime of healthy skin.

How to protect your baby’s skin microbiome

The problem with modern hygiene

Compared to historical practices, modern society’s hygiene practices are extreme. We often over-clean skin to free it from all bacteria, including healthy bacteria that protects us from disease and infection. For example, the healthy bacteria on our skin combats the harmful S. Aureus (staph) bacteria that proliferates in eczema-prone skin.

We also fail to expose our children to a microbial-rich enviroment. They often spend most of their time indoors instead of the great outdoor, causing them to become more susceptible to eczema and environmental allergies.

What should we do?

  1. Rather than over-washing, gentle cleansing is the solution.

    Experts at the American Academy of Dermatology Association recommend bathing your little one just 2-3 times a week. If they have dry, sensitive skin, you can bath them just once per week. Choose a cleanser with no alcohol, preservatives and essential oils or fragrances which can cause imbalances in the skin-microbiome. 

  2. Consider this paradigm shift: learn to cultivate the skin-microbiome instead of washing it off.

    All this means is that we need to be outside more! When your baby is old enough, they can explore nature via touch.  Skin-to-skin and touch is crucial to the development of the skin-microbiome, including contact with older siblings and pets.

    3. Cultivating a healthy gut-microbiome is also beneficial to the skin-microbiome on the skin. 

    Breastmilk, whole foods and foods rich in probiotics improve the health of the gut and the skin. Some studies have shown that probiotic and prebiotic oral supplements can help restore damaged skin-microbiomes in the gut. Be sure to consult with a doctor before starting to use supplements and for product recommendations!
How do I protect my baby’s skin microbiome?

TLDR; For the first few months of baby’s life, we recommend only using a gentle, non-drying cleanser like our Lullaby Melting Balm Cleanser and letting your baby's skin figure everything else out. Here is why we think it is the best natural baby wash for newborn skin!

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