Skin is the body's largest organ, and it plays a key role in immunity: it’s the first line of defense against potential pathogens. Therefore, it’s essential to wash our skin (and hands) to ward off the toxins we encounter in our daily lives. With extra hand washing comes dry, cracked skin.
In fact, too much washing without adequate moisturizer can irritate your skin and decrease your immunity over time. That’s why it’s important to give your skin and hands some extra TLC. As a bonus, learning how to better care for your skin can actually help protect your health and boost your immunity.
This is your guide to understanding your skin’s role in your overall health.
Read on to learn how to heal dry hands, maintain a skin-friendly diet, and incorporate botanical-infused moisturizers into your skincare routine.
The Skin’s Role in Immunity
Skin is not only the largest organ in the body, but also the most exposed. Unless you leave the house in a bubble or a hazmat suit, your skin interacts with your environment. Your hands, your scalp, your arms, and your face.
That’s not a bad thing.
In fact, our skin is designed to protect our internal organs from the outside world. Researcher Julie Salmon and her colleagues emphasize that “the skin functions as more than a physical barrier: it is an active immune organ.”
But how does the skin fit into the immune system? Our immune systems are made up of various components, including:
- T-cells and B-cells, two kinds of lymphocytes present in the bloodstream. T-cells can directly kill foreign invaders in the body, as well as send messages directing the immune system to kick into gear.
- Lymph nodes and gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) that trap viruses and bacteria so that T-cells can attack them.
- The spleen, which filters blood.
You may not think of your skin as part of the immune system, but it is. Your skin actually has 20 billion T-cells—many more T-cells than are present in the blood.
And beyond T-cells, the skin has other abilities that impact our immunity. The skin contains several other kinds of cells that can detect and combat invaders, such as Langerhans cells and Keratinocytes. In addition, skin has a symbiotic relationship with beneficial and protective bacteria that live on its surface.
The Skin Microbiome
These days, you’re probably hearing more about the gut microbiome—the collection of fungi, viruses, and bacteria that live in our GI tracts and help us with everything from digesting our food to fighting off infection.
Did you know that your skin has a microbiome, too?
While the idea of bacteria living all over the surface of your skin may make you want to reach for the nearest bottle of hand sanitizer, these organisms actually play a crucial role in our immunity. In Future Science OA, Kativia Bari explains that:
“For centuries, ancient practices like Ayurveda have connected the importance of the gut to overall health, and now, through medical science, we are beginning to notice an interaction between the skin and the gut, and their respective microorganisms, and the connection to a healthy, balanced, immune system.”
So, while washing your hands is important, it’s also important to take actions that help the skin maintain the delicate balance of this ecosystem.
Maintaining Healthy Skin
Healthy skin plays a vital role in protecting you from disease. When it comes to keeping your skin healthy, topical treatments are important. At the same time, we’ve also learned that the skin is intimately connected with our immune system. When our skin is in poor health, it impacts our immune system. Likewise, when our immune system is in poor health, it impacts our skin. The effect of stress on the immune system is mighty and when our health is at risk, we’re more likely to break out in rashes or face dryness and irritation.
Therefore, it’s also important to take a whole-body approach to wellness. Thus, use the following tips on how to manage stress in order to care for your skin:
Maintain a healthy diet – Because the skin is so connected to our gut health, a balanced diet is the first line of defense against skin issues. Web MD recommends a diet rich in the following vitamins and compounds:
- Vitamin A, which is found in dairy products, fish, and orange veggies like carrots and sweet potatoes
- Antioxidants, found in fresh fruits and vegetables
- Healthy fats - think avocado, walnuts, salmon, and olive oil
- Drink plenty of water. Drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day helps keep your skin hydrated and also rids it of toxins.
- Manage stress levels – According to researchers Ying Chen and John Lyga, there is a strong “brain-skin connection.” Chronic stress produces inflammation, which in turn “suppresses immunoprotection, increases susceptibility to infections and exacerbates some allergic and inflammatory diseases.” Your skin health is one more reason why it’s so important to manage stress during difficult times.
- Wash gently – As you now know, it’s important to wash without disrupting your skin’s balance. While you should use antibacterial soap for your hands, consider gentler soaps for your face and body.
- Moisturize – Moisturizer is about more than having soft skin. Keeping your skin hydrated can also combat inflammation and boost immune function. In a recent study from the University of California - San Francisco, 30 days of moisturizing was shown to reduce inflammation and combat disease.
- Protect your skin from the sun – Over time, UV rays from the sun can cause free radical damage. That’s why it’s so important to wear sunscreen or another product with light SPF protection, even in the winter.
CBD and Skincare
If you’re looking to boost your skincare routine with all-natural ingredients, consider adding CBD products to your regimen. CBD is known to have the following skincare benefits:
- Fighting blemishes
- Reducing redness and irritation
- Antioxidant properties
- Antibacterial properties
When your skin is inflamed, it’s less able to serve as a protective barrier. Soothing your skin with CBD can help to reduce irritation and maintain hydration. As an added bonus, it can also help to reduce signs of aging and give you glowier, happier-looking skin.
Curious about getting started? Here are some ways you can incorporate CBD into your skincare routine:
- As a moisturizer – Add CBD oil to a product you already use, or invest in a CBD face serum or face mask to give your skin some much-needed hydration.
- To boost overall health – CBD capsules can help you to manage stress, maintain a healthy appetite, and find more relaxation in your daily life. When you improve your overall health, your skin follows suit.
Give Your Hands Some TLC
When it comes to skincare, don’t forget your hands. You interact with the world around you through your hands on a daily basis. From swiping a credit card to giving a friend’s shoulder a much-needed squeeze, your hands are constantly used to carry out tasks for you.
It’s important to wash your hands in order to protect yourself from potential disease—our ten fingers are the body parts that we most frequently expose to the outside world. However, all that handwashing can take a toll on your hands and lead to dry, cracked skin.
As you now know, it’s important to find ways to heal your skin while keeping its ecosystem in balance. Below are our top tips on how to fix dry cracked hands:
CBD Oil and Self-Massage
Try giving your hands a thorough massage using CBD balm as the massage oil. This can help ease the stress and tension from typing and texting all day, as well as heal your dry skin.
Be sure to:
- Massage each palm thoroughly using the opposite hand’s thumb.
- Tackle the top of each hand using the opposite hand’s index and middle fingers.
- Give each finger some love by holding it in your opposite fist, applying pressure, and giving it a pull.
Masks aren’t just for your face. You can also apply an extra-nourishing moisturizer directly to your hands. Invest in a specialized hand mask product, a face mask, or make your own hand mask at home. Try out the following recipe:
- Mix 1 oz aloe vera, 1 oz melted coconut oil, and 1 dropper full of CBD oil
- Apply thoroughly to both hands
- Cover with plastic gloves, and leave on for at least 15 minutes
If you leave this mask on overnight, you’re bound to wake up with happy hands.
Plant People CBD
Plant People has a wide array of CBD products, from supplements to CBD oil to nourishing topicals for your skincare routine. Our 100% organic, hemp-derived CBD products feature full spectrum CBD as well as adaptogenic herbs that can nourish your skin and boost your overall health.
Your skin is a vital protective barrier against potential disease. However, there’s more to staying healthy than showering six times a day. Developing a nourishing, CBD-infused skincare and CBD Topicals routine can help you protect yourself and improve your immunity. As an added benefit, it can also leave you feeling nourished, rejuvenated, and relaxed from toes to fingertips.
Medical News Today. Skin moisturizer could reduce risk of disease. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324717#Can-we-reduce-the-risks-of-inflammaging?
Inflammation and Allergy Drug Targets. Brain-skin connection. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4082169/
WebMD. The ABCs of a healthy skin diet. https://www.webmd.com/beauty/features/abcs-of-healthy-skin-diet#1
Journal of Investigative Dermatology. Skin resident T cells. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2922675/
Cancer Treatment Centers of America. What's the difference? B-cells and T-cells. https://www.cancercenter.com/community/blog/2017/05/whats-the-difference-b-cells-and-t-cells
Western Journal of Medicine. The skin as an immune organ. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1022320/?page=1
Future Science OA. Skin microbiome & host immunity. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6060389/
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