Care products boosting the microbiome now included in European guidelines
Hennigsdorf b. Berlin, 31 May 2022 – Frequently disinfecting or washing your hands may cause skin diseases if doing so damages the skin’s natural healthy microbiome and harms its healthy protective acid mantle. This may lead to itching and redness, but also atopic eczema, rosacea, or psoriasis, or worsen these symptoms or diseases. Professor Dr Christine Lang, professor of microbiology at the Technical University (TU) of Berlin and CSO at BELANO medical AG, emphasised this issue in an interview with the German periodical NATUR & HEILEN.
In the article, published in the magazine’s current issue, Professor Lang describes how healthy bacteria of the Staphylococcus epidermidis species act like a natural antibiotic against inflammation-causing pathogens (https://www.naturundheilen.de/artikel/das-mikrobiom-der-haut-unsere-unterschaetzte-schutzbarriere/). This natural balance in the skin’s microbiome appeared to be “a training for good bacteria”. “The result is that our immune system in the skin also produces antibodies”, Christine Lang is quoted in the piece. Merely disinfecting away harmful bacteria was hence counterproductive. Different bacteria had to interact for the skin’s surface to remain intact. Hence, the aim had to be to reduce excessive numbers of harmful microorganisms while simultaneously promoting the growth of healthy bacteria on the skin.
Clinical studies for effective products made from bacteria
Notwithstanding this scientific finding, there were as yet no pharmaceutical products which would be able to support the microbiome. “It takes time before new agents or new therapies are added to medical guidelines”, says Professor Lang. Furthermore, many medical practitioners still generally classified bacteria as pathogens, which had to be held in check. “Therapies which use healthy bacteria would be the next step.” Getting approval for a drug based on the microbiome required a large number of clinical studies. First recommendations on the use of care products which improved the microbiome have already been become part of the latest European treatment guidelines for atopic eczema.
Several years ago, Professor Lang already developed for BELANO medical the ingredient “stimulans” based on active bacteria and used, among others, in the medical skincare line “ibiotics med”. “It is a peptide, i.e. a chain of amino acids, which is created by the lactic acid bacterium Levilactobacillus brevis”, as Professor Lang explains in the article. “They stimulate good bacteria such as Staphylococcus epidermidis to propagate. And the more of these you have on your skin, the easier it becomes to reduce the number of inflammatory bacteria.” Studies have shown that in 80 percent of all participants, symptoms such as dry skin, redness, burning, itching, or prickling sensations, and inflammations all subsided within a few days. This made it possible to reduce or even phase out completely the use of preparations containing cortisone which may have side effects.
Diet and diabetes impact on skin health
Diets could also play a part in boosting bacterial diversity on the skin (i.e. the skin microbiome). We already knew of the gut-skin axis that “gut bacteria react with the surface of the intestinal epithelium and send out molecules which enter the body and, among others, make contact with the skin and train its immune system,” as Professor Lang explains in the article. “What we eat and drink is digested in the stomach and the small intestine, and is then distributed within our body by the circulatory system, one example being vitamins.” Anything the body didn’t need was excreted or sweated out through the skin, e.g. water, sugar, proteins, fats, or acids.
In turn, these then became “feed for the microbes”, the article says. Secreting through the skin hence determined which bacteria found particularly rich pickings. Professor Lang: “A study has shown that people with diabetes, who have higher blood sugar levels, also deposit more sugar on the skin when they sweat. This, however, is the preferred feed of inflammatory bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus.” As a result, one in three diabetics also suffered from dry or itching skin. The magazine also quotes a French study which found that an unbalanced gut microbiome could also promote allergic skin reactions or even atopic eczema.
Hence, Professor Lang emphasised that in the treatment of skin conditions and skin diseases both – gut and skin flora – have to examined. This would also have an effect on the research and development efforts of biotechnology companies such as BELANO medical.