The skin is the largest organ in the human body. It is constantly replacing itself, making new skin cells and sloughing off the old, dried-out cells. Between 30,000 to 40,000 old skin cells slough every day. The skin will completely replace itself in about a month (AAD Website).

Structurally, the top layer of your skin (epidermis) is composed of many skin cells (corneocytes) which are sandwiched in a “brick and mortar” fashion between a cholesterol lipid “mortar.”

Crawling amongst your corneocytes, are tiny microorganisms which make up your skin’s microbiome. Your skin microbiome is the joint genetic material of the 1 TRILLION bugs who call your skin home. There are bacteria, fungi, viruses, and even microscopic mites sharing this joint living space.

Your microbiome differs based on body location and environmental factors (for example, your armpit critters are different than your eyebrow critters). Moisture, oil, hair, pH, and light can all affect the composition. Your microbiome changes as you age and in response to many skin diseases. Gender also plays a role in microbiome. If you take oral antibiotics for a medical condition, this obliterates the normal bacteria of your skin’s microbiome along with whatever infection you were treating, and reconstitution takes time.

Maintaining the health of your epidermis is key to promoting a balanced, thriving microbiome. When your skin barrier is disrupted (too wet, too dry, or too hot) you become prone to developing many skin diseases such as eczema, psoriasis, allergic rashes, ulcers, acne, rosacea, dandruff, warts, and skin infections.

Read more in Part Two: “Avoid Winter’s Itch
by Maintaining a Healthy Barrier”