Our skin is a balanced ecosystem. Since it was colonized by billions of bacteria, viruses, fungi and mites at the dawn of the evolution of hominids, many species of microorganisms have lived in symbiosis with our skin mantle cells. Science’s efforts to identify our colonizers have revealed how essential these microorganisms are for the health of our skin. The most natural way to healthy skin is to help maintain the balance between all these microorganisms.
Although it may be difficult to credit, only 10% of the cells of the body’s skin, intestines and mucous membranes are human. Most of them are of microscopic organisms that belong to the microbiota, the set of all foreign microbes that live in our body, especially in the digestive organs and the skin. For example, each square centimetre of human skin contains approximately one million microorganisms from a hundred different species. Together these form the skin’s microbiota (traditionally called the skin’s "flora”). This ecosystem is comparable in complexity to any other system in the Earth’s mantle. Today we know that our skin has hosted these microorganisms over thousands of years of evolution and that it is the symbiosis between our own cells and these tiny guests which helps the skin to perform its primary function of acting as a protective physical barrier. Read More
An offensive body odour may not be the result of a lack of hygiene. Bromhidrosis is a disorder affecting both men and women and usually associated with secretions by the apocrine sweat glands located in the armpits, pubis, perineum and navel, behind the ears and in the folds under the breast. It is a chronic but treatable disorder.
Persons affected by bromhidrosis do not perspire more; rather, their apocrine glands produce sweat containing ceramides that are different to those of the rest of the population. When broken down by the skin’s bacteria, a strong odour is the result. This odour, which is often described as pungent, musty or sour, cannot be dissumulated. The condition is believed to be genetic in origin, but may also be caused by a metabolic disorder such as diabetes, by thyroid or adrenal gland alterations or by certain drugs. In addition, certain foods, such as onions, garlic and spices, and also tobacco use and alcohol consumption, can aggravate the condition. Read More
Our skin regulates body temperature by sweating. Although we are not aware of it, this sophisticated natural mechanism keeps us alive, because the body requires a constant internal temperature. But some people do not sweat enough, and, in some cases, this disorder has serious repercussions.
This blog has already included a post on the bothersome problem of excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) and its treatments. But sweating too little (hypohidrosis) or not sweating at all (anhidrosis) are much more dangerous to health, because the body fails to maintain its proper temperature. The pores of the skin, usually easily seen under a magnifying glass, are virtually invisible in people with these problems. The causes, whether genetic, endocrinological (diabetes, hypothyroidism) or neurological, affect the nerves involved in sweating. Symptoms include dizziness, headache, nausea, trembling, fever and tachycardia. These syndromes have no cure or medication, but fortunately affect few people. The only solution is to hydrate properly and avoid heat stroke by staying in the shade.
Sweating is necessary. Sweating through the skin is the physiological response to an increase in body temperature during physical exercise or because of excessive heat. Sweat evaporation cooling the body is the mechanism by which temperature is regulated. If this mechanism fails even death may result. But some people sweat excessively and, for them, hyperhidrosis is a very annoying problem.
The skin has three types of sweat glands. The most numerous are the eccrine glands, responsible for thermoregulation by sweating. They are distributed over all the skin, but are particularly to be found in palms, soles, armpits and the face; the apocrine glands, primarily located in the armpits, nipples and perineal area, are responsible for body odour. Humans have between two and four million eccrine sweat glands distributed all over the body surface and averaging about 600 per square centimetre. A person can sweat several litres per hour and up to ten litres in a day. Read More