We are living in a time when an ever-growing proportion of the western industrialized world is suffering from allergies, asthma, eczema and other chronic inflammatory diseases.
As a practicing dermatologist, I have seen an alarming increase in patients suffering from these conditions.
The theory most accepted today for this epidemic is know as the biodiversity hypothesis.
Biodiversity refers to the variety and genetic variability of life on earth. Human have a negative effect on biodiversity.
Rapid environmental changes typically cause mass extinctions. More than 99.9 percent of all species that ever lived on Earth, amounting to over 5 billions are estimated to be extinct.
2011-2020 has been deemed the Decade of Biodiversity by the UN
So what does this have to do with skin?
Humans are old, about 200,000 years old to be exact and for only the last 100 years we have been living in clean homes, decrease exposure to nature, we have clean food and water and we scrub our bodies and hair daily with detergents.
Skincare and household care also have preservatives that kill bacteria and they are daily put out into the environment.
This clean obsession has lead to a loss of beneficial protective microorganisms on our skin and in our gut- essentially a biodiversity loss.
As human beings we have more bacterial DNA or genetic code than human
Did you ever wonder how your body knows what a bad bacteria on your skin looks like vs a good one? It has to be trained. The only way it can train is to have good bacteria teach it. The good bacterial on and in us is known as our micro biome.
If we remove these good bacteria by skin cleaning, clean water and homes in particular early in life we are not exposed to the organisms our bodies have developed with in nature for the past thousands of years.
Our immune system does not develop well- it does to learn what a good vs bad bacteria is
Once exception here is washing your hands- its the most important tool to prevent the spread of infection. Washing our bodies and hair are societal norms and have less to do with health.