Looking After Your Skin Hygiene Suitable for stages: Pregnancy, 0 - 3 Months, 3 - 6 Months, 6 - 12 Months
It is easy to overlook our skin as an important indicator of our inner health, yet we instinctively find clear, radiant skin attractive and beautiful.
Your skin is your main barrier between you and the outside world. The other main barrier between your body and the outside world is your gut lining within your digestive system. There are a lot of parallels between your skin health and your gut health. Your gut lining is essentially an extension of your skin. Your inner tube is like your inner skin that controls what is absorbed into your body and what waste products are released to be excreted out of your body.
Your skin microbiota or skin flora is made up of around 1000 species who help keep your skin healthy and form a defence against pathogenic organisms from moving in. There is a balance which your microbiota needs to maintain to prevent pathogenic species from entering the body and causing problems. The skin has 20 distinct zones with either sebaceous (oily), moist, or dry surface characteristics. Your skin also has defence mechanisms including antimicrobial peptides, natural acidity favourable to beneficial bacteria, and cell-mediated immunity. It follows that anything you put on your skin to change the acidity and if your body is under stress and can't activate it's defence mechanisms. Skin problems would then result.
Maintaining a healthy skin barrier
Many dietary nutrients and adequate hydration/water content contribute to healthy skin. During pregnancy, your skin is growing to accommodate your baby in your belly and can feel stretched, dry and itchy, leading to stretch marks appearing. A good skincare routine and making sure your body has the hydration and nutrients to support your skin growth around your growing belly can make a difference to your skin's appearance. Using a pH balanced natural soap or shower gel and natural hair care products suitable for sensitive skin and synthetic fragrances will help you wash in the shower or bath with confidence. Products such as Mummy's Tummy are made especially for pregnant skin.
Avoid products with triclosan, an antibacterial substance in cleansers, toothpastes, and some children’s toys. Your skin is supposed to have bacteria on it, which makes up your skin microbiome to protect your body- antibacterial products rid all bacteria good and bad from your body, leaving you vulnerable to attack. Your skin microbiome will be passed onto your child through skin contact and your body and breastfeeding. Toxins can also disrupt your skin microbiome, whether you get these through products which touch your skin, your food, your water, your air or anywhere in your environment. It would be wise to spot test any new skin or mouthcare product and monitor for any adverse reactions.
Using a body moisturiser, belly butter, pregnancy oil or unscented Sorbolene or aqueous cream can nourish and relieve skin symptoms and is a great tactile activity to add to your post-shower routine (or any time of the day). Getting your partner to massage in the cream or oil can also be a great bonding activity you can do together and involve them in how your body is changing as your baby grows.
Another way to spoil yourself during your pregnancy is to enjoy a pregnancy massage - lots of massage therapists offer this service and have a special massage table with a circle cut out for your bump to fit in to lay face down. Massages serve multiple purposes of nourishing your skin whilst relaxing your muscles and activating your tactile sensory system.
Other ways to protect your skin includes:
- apply a natural sunscreen before going in the sun for any long periods of time
- applying insect repellent when mosquitos or other bugs are about
- Sticking to a natural deodorant if you need to use any
- If you want or need to wear makeup, try natural products where possible
- Having a weekly soak in the warm bath with good quality bath salts
The hands are a key way that we interact with our environment and our bodies. We touch on many surfaces and objects in our day and use our hands to feed, scratch and rub our skin, eyes, mouth and nose frequently. There is a lot of evidence that washing our hands at critical times in our day effectively prevents unwanted organisms from entering our body and spreading infectious organisms within our environment especially on high touchpoints such as doorknobs.
For everyday purposes, the evidence supports plain soap and water as being as effective if a proper handwashing technique is used and the hands are dried afterwards. Anti-bacterial and anti-microbial products have the job of killing all bacteria and pathogens, good and bad, which is why they have their place in healthcare settings and to reduce transmission when a member of your household is infective. These products affect your skin's microbiome, which is there to protect your body from intruders, and overuse can lead to antibiotic-resistant strains multiplying.
It is a good idea to make sure you have access to soap at all sinks and basins in your house (and have refills in the cupboard) to make handwashing as easy as possible. Having lever or mixer taps installed at your kitchen sink, bathroom basin and laundry basin which are easy to use and can be operated using your arm or wrist, is another way of making your life easier and reducing the touchpoints before and after handwashing. It could also help to carry around travel size liquid soap for use in public areas when you have access to water, but soap is not available. When there is no access to water, a natural hand sanitiser is better than nothing. Hand sanitiser can dry your skin out on the back of your hands, so be sure to moisturise regularly when using it.
To help remove any dirt from under your nails, it can be handy to have a nail brush at one of your sinks.
It is always best to avoid products with synthetic fragrances, triclosan, parabens, methanol, ammonia amongst other synthetic ingredients. Also, notice any reaction you have in your hands after using it and switch brands if you have any adverse reactions.
If you have to use chemicals for any reason including cleaning, laundry or gardening, always read the warnings on the label and wear gloves (and a mask if needed) to protect your hands and body. Your skin can absorb chemicals from objects or substances that you touch, so make sure you protect yourself by using disposable or reusable gloves. When donning (putting on) and doffing (taking off) gloves, there are certain precautions and a procedure you can follow to minimise your exposure. Even better, would be to only use products you are sure are safe to use and environmentally friendly such as the range available from Biome Eco Stores & Nourished Life.
Your skin can be an entry point for unwanted bacteria when there are cuts, abrasions, or other conditions that damage the skin's surface. Fungi can invade and infect your skin even when it is intact and cause a fungal infection such as ringworm or Athlete's Foot which are both forms of Tinea that require treatment. Some viruses present as skin infections such as cold sores caused by the herpes simplex virus and chickenpox/shingles caused by the varicella-zoster virus and are exacerbated by stress.
It is important to clean any wounds as soon as they occur with clean water or saline solution and apply antiseptic cream and cover the wound as needed. Having a basic first aid kit in your home and car is a good idea, so you can access what you need when you need it. It is also a good idea to have access to first aid information such as in the free app iFirstAid, which you can use to guide you with voice instructions with essential first aid information. If you have sensitive skin and react to adhesives in bandaids, you can try Patch Organic adhesive strips from Biome Eco Stores or Nourished Life.
Please note: Above all, any information on this website aims to provide general ideas for informational and educational purposes only. We encourage users to investigate several information sources, including, where necessary, independent individualised medical advice before making any decisions that could affect you or your child’s health or wellbeing.
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