During hot summers, with temperatures similar to those we experienced this June, we sweat easily. To start with, this is simply our body’s natural cooling response – but which is not without drawbacks. Excessive sweating may be harmful to our healthy skin flora or skin microbiome and cause skin diseases.
Doctors distinguish between physiological sweating – which is caused by heat or physical activity – and pathological sweating, which may e.g. be triggered by stress. Both kinds have one aspect in common: there is a wide transitional range between regular sweating and abnormally increased sweating, also called hyperhidrosis.
This hyperhidrosis may also affect negatively the skin flora or skin microbiome. The Pharmazeutische Zeitung reported that “a permanently damp skin will interfere with the skin barrier. The stratum corneum (horny or outermost layer) becomes soft and easier to colonise by pathogens like viruses, bacteria, or fungi.” In addition, the microbiome will become imbalanced, which may also encourage skin diseases. This increases the risk of symptoms such as rashes, reddening, pimples, itching, as well as of infections, e.g. of the bottom of the foot (pitted keratolysis) or athlete’s foot (tinea pedis).
Therefore, it is important to strengthen the skin flora or skin microbiome and to keep it in a healthy balance in order to protect the natural skin barrier and the skin’s defenses. It is always about exploiting healthy bacteria in the microbiome diversity so that skin can defend itself independently against harmful pathogens.
Some time ago, scientists at the University of Tübingen and Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT) discovered a protein present in sweat which also helps the skin defend itself against harmful bacteria. Called “dermicidin”, this protein is produced in human sweat glands. It acts like a natural antibiotic and is able to prevent pathogens from colonising our skin during the first hours of an infection. (cf. also http://www.gesunde-bakterien.de/en/on-duty-biological-blue-berets-for-skin-and-body/).