Thursday, 4 February 2016

Armpit Wine

If you are afraid of creepy crawlies and weird things on your skin, then this is not the post for you. I'm going to talk about the human microbial system, the human microbiome. This is the incredible collection of creatures like mites, bacteria, fungi, and viruses that live on the human skin. These little critters live throughout our bodies; there are 20 times as many of these microscopic creatures in our bodies as there are cells in our body, rough 20 trillion of them in an average adult.

Your skin is the host to most of these teeny, tiny passengers; about half of them, roughly 10 trillion, live on the outside of your body. You can't see them, unless they get together in a gang and try to take over the neighbourhood. You can't feel them, except in your wild imaginings. And you need them. Without this microbial host, your body would quickly succumb to all kinds of illnesses and infections. By and large, these creatures are your friends, even if you have no choice in their existence.

One of the more common microbes on your skin is something called Candida albicans, more commonly known as yeast. This little fungus lives on you all the time, no matter how good you clean yourself, no matter how many showers you take, no matter what kind of soap you use. It's just there, like the mites that live in your hair follicles. It's a part of the human microbiome, whether you like it or not.

Sometimes, however, Candida albicans takes off. You get a yeast infection. This is so common in people that there are over the counter creams for taking care of it. In fact there are even TV commercials advertising these creams. This is ordinary stuff, most common in the folding areas of your skin. Women get them more than men, but men get them often enough. Yeast infections are most common in babies, overweight people, people with compromised immune systems, people who deal with constant wetness, plus a few others. I win on the immune system, overweight, wetness, and other stuff.

Yes, I have a persistent yeast infection in my armpits. There's no way around it. It has nothing to do with being unclean. In fact more showers might even make it worse, providing more wetness for the little friendly fungus to grow in. What I need is dryness, and a special under arm cream. It itches. It's red. It's a nuisance that points to other failures in my body, like becoming pre-diabetic thanks to being overweight, or the failure of my immune system in general.

It's not bad. It's just another annoying reminder that having ALS doesn't give me a free pass on other things. In fact it makes me a target for some of them. I just wish I could figure out a way to breed wine yeast on my skin. That way I could just grab some grapes, rub them in my armpits, and let it ferment. I suspect it might not taste all that good, but you never know.

1 comment:

  1. People make beer from the yeast found in their beards (Stay weird, Portland hipsters!), so armpit wine is not unthinkable...