Why Staying Clean Could Be Bad for Your Health
Daily Mail UK
November 23, 2009
They say cleanliness is next to godliness.
But it seems being too clean could actually be bad for your health.
Scientists warn that our obsession with hygiene could be impairing our skin’s ability to stay healthy.
They say bacteria on the skin’s surface play an active role in preventing rashes and damping down cuts and bruises.
It is further evidence the West’s obsession with cleanliness could be doing more harm than good.
One possible explanation for soaring numbers of allergies is that children’s immune systems are not developing properly because they are not exposed to enough bugs and dirt.
Charity Allergy UK believes 40 per cent of Britons have an allergy – double that in the early 1990s – with increasingly clean lifestyles being a possible cause.
Now scientists at the University of California in San Diego say exposure to microbes can be beneficial to health.
They found bacteria dampen down immune responses which cause cuts and bruises to become swollen and painful.
Professor Richard Gallo, who led the research, said: ‘These germs are actually good for us.’
Bacteria such as staphylococcal species cause inflammation when introduced beneath the skin’s surface, he added.
But the same bugs do not trigger inflammation when present on the epidermis, or outer layer of skin. In fact, the studies on mice and human cell cultures show they reduced inflammation.
The findings are published online today in the journal Nature Medicine. There are an estimated 100trillion microbes living on or inside the human body.
Many are vital for health, deterring dangerous bacteria from entering the body and strengthening the immune system.