Bacteria are really a friend for life. The first three years of your life will be crucial for shaping your microbiome, and hence your health for the rest of your life.
So, let’s look a bit at the baby microbiome, the skin pH and why every kid has eczema these days.
You get a microbiome in the first second of your life. Literally. The baby will travel through its mother vagina, covering itself in a lot of vaginal bacteria. Gross, but kinda cool. So, a newborn gets delivered into the world with a first microbiome, which is mainly lactic acid bacteria (like Lactobacillus).
…And we love lactobacilli! You will find it in most of our products. It’s what’s called a keystone species: an anchor for the rest of the microbiome to come and colonize the skin. You should see them as an early adopter, or an influencer if you will: where they go, bacteria will follow. Lactic acid bacteria are the foundation of a good and healthy skin microbiome.
These early bacteria get to work a lot during the first weeks of life: they start building a proper skin barrier, get the skin to its normal acidic pH, prevent water loss from the skin. So not only cool, hard working too. Didn’t I say that they are the best?
After 3 years of building work, they will have built a team and raised a roof over the skin. From there onward, your skin microbiome will be more or less stable. The baby is now good to go into the wider world, explore and still be protected by its microbiome. Job well done!
Yes but… That’s the ideal scenario. A lot of things can happen in the first three years of your life that can derail this beautiful process.
- Being born by C-Section, and missing all the cool Lactobacilli from the start. Your first microbiome will be… whatever was on the hands of the nurse that delivered you.
- Getting antibiotics in the first 3 years. Antibiotics are life saving, but they have a side effect of wiping out a lot of bacteria, including the nice ones. That’s why doctors now prescribe probiotics with kids in the same time than antibiotics. Making sure the microbiome gets replenished!
- Over-washing, and washing with the wrong pH. The fragile balance of the early life microbiome is heavily disturbed whenever soap is applied to the skin. Good bacteria get missing, annoying ones can take the space, skin barrier is not building up correctly.
The results? More inflammation of the skin either right away or in the coming years. Which often means… eczema.
But now that we understand better how the microbiome develops, we can take better decisions and ensure that babies get the right start in life.
The good reflexes?
- Asking the birthing team what’s the best way to transfer some Lactobacillus to the skin. It could be a tampon covered in secretions. Still gross, but very easy fix.
- Antibiotics are not automatic. Respect prescriptions and don’t go for longer than what’s needed. And team up with probiotics.
- Wash babies as little as possible, and only with very gentle products. Always check the pH! Conveniently, our Perfume Free Cleansing Bar is suitable for babies and eczema prone skin from day 1. Et voila!
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