Is it possible to be too hygienic? The answer may be yes. In fact, having some microbes on the skin may protect young children against developing allergies.
The hygiene hypothesis
The “hygiene hypothesis” refers to the idea that exposing babies and young children to germs and microorganisms can help build their immune systems, preventing the development of allergies and asthma.
This hypothesis has evolved with a better understanding of the microbiome, or the microorganisms in your body that influence your health.
Humans are awash in microorganisms, especially on our skin and in our guts. While some microorganisms can cause infections, others support normal bodily functions, help with immunity and contribute to overall well-being.
If you disrupt the microbial environment, you may interfere with the good microorganisms that contribute to your health. Generally, the more diverse the microbiome, the better.
Researchers think that babies and young children who live in very clean environments have a less diverse microbiome and may be more likely to develop allergies, allergic skin conditions and autoimmune disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease.
What parents can do
To help encourage a diverse microbiome and healthy immune system in children, parents can try the following:
Tags: allergy, asthma, bacterial infections, germs, hand hygiene, hand washing, Healthy Living, hygiene, immunology, inflammatory bowel diseases, microbiomes, pediatric allergist, Probiotics, treating allergies in children, UCLA Pediatric Allergy & Immunology, Wellness