Due to COVID-19 stay-at-home ordinances we are temporarily suspending all online orders until further notice. Your patience & understanding is truly appreciated during this crisis.

Can Swimming in the Ocean Destroy Your Skin's Microbiome Layer?

Posted by Sharon Gnatt Epel on

If you love the beach and enjoy taking a dip in the ocean, you may want to know about a research study presented this year at ASM Microbe 2019: the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology. This study concluded that swimming in ocean water can alter your skin’s microbiome and leave you susceptible to a slew of opportunistic diseases and infections.

So what exactly is the skin microbiome?

The skin microbiome refers to the collection of microorganisms that literally live on our skin. This includes an assortment of both good and bad bacteria, fungi and viruses. It is estimated that over 1 trillion bacteria and microbes make their home on our skin, and can be found everywhere from the bottom of the fatty layer, all the way up to the epidermal cells on the skin’s surface.

If you or your children ever played the 1994 PC fish simulator game Odell Down Under, you may recall that there were cleaner-fish whose primary job was to suck parasites off the surfaces of larger fish in order to keep bacterial colonies in check and help them maintain good health. It turns out that humans have a lot in common with this. Our skin plays host to an assortment of bacteria whose job is to prevent harmful germs and toxins from entering our bodies. These good bacterial “freeloaders” play an important role in human immune function by preventing microbes from colonizing and potentially overwhelming our defense systems. Maintaining a strong microbiome is the first step in creating a healthy environment for our bodies. 

When our body’s ecological balance shifts, we become susceptible to all kinds of problems.

Marisa Chattman Nielsen is the lead author on a study about how swimming in the ocean can leave you susceptible to illness. She and a group of investigators examined volunteers before and after they swam in the ocean and measured their microbiome levels. Some of the criteria that influenced outcomes included the absence of sunscreen on the skin, the frequency of exposure to the water, and not having taken any antibiotics during the previous 6 months. After swimming and air-drying, all the volunteers exhibited levels of bacterial communities on their skin that were 10 times greater than the ocean water sample, suggesting that certain pathogens are attracted specifically to human skin. The good news is that after 24 hours, their presence was almost completely gone, most likely because the test subjects' healthy microbiomes were able to neutralize their threat.

Aside from the obvious implication that swimming in the compromised ecosystem of our oceans can make us ill, there is additional data that implies a connection between eczema flareups and an imbalance in the skin’s microbiome caused by specific strains of bacteria.  When researchers cultured “good” bacteria and applied it to the skin of mice that were colonized with human strains of eczema, it prevented flareups. More work needs to be done to determine the exact mechanism responsible for this vulnerability, but this research shows great promise and hopefully will help unlock the mystery of why some people are susceptible to certain skin conditions, while others are not.


Copyright August 2019 by Sharon Gnatt Epel for La Ishá Inc.

Photo credits: Jeremy Bishop, Shot-by-Cerqueira

#Microbiome #SkinMicrobiome #OceanSwimming

← Older Post Newer Post →


#AgeSpotRemover #AgeSpots #AirPollution #houseplants #Detoxifiers #CleanAir #IndoorAir #Melanoma #NaturalSkinCare #SPF #Sunscreen acne age spots AGEs AgeSpotPrevention alpha-hydroxy acid American Red Cross Anti-aging anti-inflammatory antioxidant anxiety argan oil Aromatherapy aromatherapy cleanser Aromatherapy Face Wash Audrey Hepburn autumn skincare AxThePinkTax bacterial contamination Beauty beauty and health beauty regimen benefits beauty routines beauty sleep beauty tips best-by date binge watching blush Body butter Book CLub brand yourself branding breast cancer bromelain caffeine caffeine tolerance Cameron Diaz cannabinoid-infused oils Cannabis in skincare carrier oils carrot seed oil CBD CBD oil chapped lips Chocolate Body butter chronopharmacological research circadian rhythms Clara Bow clogged pores Coconut Oil collagen production comedogenic concealer consumer pricing coronavirus cortisol cortisol levels COVAD-19 cracked heels Crepe-y skin crows feet cruelty free Cruelty-free Customizable moisture cuticle conditioner CyberMonday special damaged hair dark circles day cream Dehydrated skin depression dermaplaning Diana Ross diet Discount International UPS diy DIY Beauty DIY body scrub DIY Hand Sanitizer DIY mosquito repellent diy skin care DIY skincare DIY toner diy toners do-it-yourself beauty dress for success dry hands Dry Skin Eartha Kitt Elizabeth Taylor emotional EQ Empty-nesters endorphins entering the workforce environmental working group Erth Minerals Essential Oils Esssential oils EWG exfoliate Exfoliation Expedited Shipping eye makeup eye primer eye puffiness eye strain Eyebrow growth eyebrow regrowth eyebrow trends Eyelash extensions eyeliner eyeshadow Face Creme face polish face toners face wash facial exfoliant Facial toners Fall Beauty Tips false eyelashes fine lines first impressions flaky lips Flaky skin fluid retension fluid retention Food as Medicine food-grade oils foundation makeup full ingredient disclosure Gabriel Cosmetics gender inequality gentle cleanser ginger GirlfriendSocial.com Glucose-driven-aging glycation GMP green juice GreenMedInfo guest beauty blogger hair conditioner hair conditioner residue happy new year 2017 health hemp hemp seed oil hempseed oil hopeless romantics hyaluronic acid hydroquinone hyperpigmentation hypothalamus inflammation International Purchases International Shipping Itchy skin Joan Crawford juicing Kate Moss Kids Against Hunger Kim Kardashian La Isha La Isha Aromatherapy Sniffers La Isha HighPerformance Natural Skin Care La Isha Natural Skin Care Lash growth treatments Latisse layering Lena Horne lip balm lip wrinkles lipliner lipstain lipstick Loneliness Long shelf life Loose skin love at first sight luxury tax makeup makeup removal Making-Friends Manicure marijuana Marilyn Monroe mascara massage Mature Skin meditation Meetup melanoma Melissa Moore mental health Merle Oberon Microdermabrasion milky cleansers Moisture Booster moisturize moisturizer mosquito bites mosquito repellent myth of cosmetic safety nail buffing nanotechnology national skin cancer awareness month Natural Face Wash natural perfumes natural preservatives Natural Skin Care Neck exercises Neck wrinkles News night cream non-toxic beauty nonspecific dermatitis Norma Shearer Nutrition for your skin oil-based skincare Oily to Normal Skin olive oil orbitofrontal cortex organic Organic Castor Oil organic food Organic Olive Oil Organic plant butters Organic Skin Care oxidative stress ozone layer pain management paraben free parabens personal branding personal care products safety perspiration photosensitivity phthalate free pink tax Pomegranate pomegranate oil pomegranate seed oil powdered blush prefrontal cortex premature aging prepare for spring preservative systems preservative-free product expiration dates puffy eyes raccoon eyes rancid oils rancidity rashes re-branding Red itchy skin patches remove makeup romance romantic men romanticism Rosewater rouge rough elbows Safe Beauty safe mosquito repellent safe osmetics Safe Skin Care safe sunscreen sagging skin saggy skin Sayer Ji Self Help self-care self-love Sensitive Skin shampoo residue shelf-life Single-parents skin cancer Skin Care skin protection skincare Skincare Routines sleep deprivation sleep disturbances smeared lipstick smudgeproof makeup sodium lauryl sulfate free soft skin spring beauty routines spring cleaning Stay-at-home-moms stimulate circulation stress sugar summer beauty tips summer face tips SummerBeautyTip sun damage sun protection Sun spots sunburn sunscreen sunscreen ban sunspots sweat synthetic preservatives Synthetic-free THC The Melissa Lifestyle thepinktax therapeutic touch thin eyebrows thin-slicing timeless beauty Toner toxic chemicals toxic compounds toxic massage oils toxic petrochemicals true love Turkey Neck turmeric Twiggy ultraviolet rays unsafe body lotions valentine's day visine vitamin A Volunteering waterproof mascara weight gain Whipped Chocolate Body Butter Whitney Houston whole foods winter skin women in work women shaving women's products world environment day Worldwide Online Sales wrinkles