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Be kind to your skin this summer

By Dr. Angela Wingfield

Skin is the largest organ of the body, and its microbiome (commensal bacteria, fungi, and viruses that live on the surface of the skin) plays a very important role in skin health. It’s possible you’ve heard about how to improve the health of your gut microbiome, composed of trillions of microorganisms including bacteria, viruses, fungi and other life forms, but the health of your skin’s microbiome should be part of your wellness plan, too. 

Keeping the proper balance of these organisms can protect your skin from oxidation and stress, maintain the proper skin pH, reduce inflammation, regulate skin barrier function, reduce infections and improve wound healing. There’s no better time to learn how to protect your skin than during the warm summer months in south Mississippi. 

Certain environmental factors can alter the skin microbiome, including loss of moisture, changes in ambient temperature, exposure to UV radiation, smoking and the use of topical antibiotics. Sunburns and exposure to chlorine or prolonged exposure to water can cause skin barrier dysfunction, which allows pathogenic bacteria to penetrate the skin and increases inflammation.


  • Spend as much time in the shade as possible. Sand and water reflect UV rays, and you will continue to absorb rays even under shade. 
  • Pick a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, specifically those that include zinc or titanium that block both UVA rays (which cause melanoma) and UVB rays. 
  • Certain medications can make you susceptible to absorbing the sun’s rays more than you typically would, including heart medications and diuretics (fluid pills). 
  • Limit your time spent in chlorine. To prevent negative effects from chlorine, be sure to shower after swimming, use moisturizer and consult a dermatologist or a pediatric dermatologist for your child if more severe reactions occur. 
  • Keep an eye on moles that are changing in color, bleeding or breaking down in the middle. 
  • As soon as you start to notice concerning skin damage, visit your dermatologist. 

Be kind to your skin this summer, and stay tuned for more topical probiotics in skin care products. 

Dr. Angela Wingfield is a board-certified dermatologist and founder of The Dermatology Clinic PLLC in Gulfport. Schedule an appointment and learn more at

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