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Probiotics for Acne: Can Probiotics Eliminate Pimple Breakouts?

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Acne is a teenager’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately, for some people, pimple breakouts continue well into adulthood.  Many acne sufferers are so desperate to get rid of their condition that they even resort to popping zits with a fingernail; we never recommend this. Perhaps there’s a better solution. The latest research shows that probiotics may play a role. Can you really take probiotics for acne? What’s the correlation between gut bacteria and the dime-sized zit on your forehead?

What Causes Acne?

Before discussing the probiotics and acne connection, let’s talk a bit about how acne occurs in the first place. There is no single cause; it’s an accumulation of multiple factors. Genetics, for the most part, determines whether you are acne-prone or not.

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The other factor is hormones. A rise in androgen hormone levels causes the subcutaneous glands under the skin to enlarge. This leads to increased sebum (skin oil) production. In turn, this causes the pores of the skin cell walls to rupture and create a breeding ground for the P. acnes bacteria. The bacteria attach to the sebum as it tries to break out of the pore, leading to a blockage that ultimately leads to acne formation. The rise in hormones explains why acne is so common among adolescent boys and girls. Adolescence means puberty, and puberty means major hormonal shifts.

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The Role of Probiotics for Acne Treatment

Probiotics and acne do have a link, even if an indirect one. The connection has to do with your immune system. Good gut bacteria do far more than just regulate digestion and general intestinal health. It also regulates the immune system. Research1 shows that probiotics do have a positive effect on immune homeostasis.

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Unbeknownst to most people, the skin itself is an organ. Not only that, it’s considered an active immune organ2. Like the gut, the skin also has its own microbiome of living microorganisms that fend off pathogenic bacteria. This immune organ is inextricably linked to the immune system that fights off the common cold or other infection.

The gut, immune system and skin are all interconnected. None of these function as an isolated entity. This is known as the gut-skin-axis.

When the gut microbiome is disturbed, perhaps due to antibiotics or years of eating crappy foods, foreign bacteria comes in and disrupts the intestinal lining. As a result, some of the substances that you normally digest reach the bloodstream. This sets off a chain reaction that sends your immune system scrambling. The immune system, in response, induces dermal inflammation, which may manifest in the form of redness, rashes and even acne.

Does Taking Probiotics Reduce Acne?

Alright, we just covered the science behind probiotics and acne. Certainly, there is a connection. However, is there actual proof that taking probiotics leads to decreased breakouts? According to one study, probiotics may directly inhibit the P. acnes bacteria through the production of antibacterial proteins.

In another study3, the probiotic strains Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium were shown to have a positive effect on chronic inflammatory skin conditions, including acne and atopic dermatitis.

That’s not all; one other study3 suggests probiotics may be useful for treating skin diseases like acne, eczema, allergy-induced inflammation and skin damage from UV-rays.

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How to Take Probiotics for Acne

We don’t believe it’s necessary to take probiotics for the specific cause of reducing acne. It’s the same way we believe you shouldn’t take probiotics specifically for weight loss, even though studies show a positive correlation. We believe the best approach is to take probiotics for digestive and overall health. Any other secondary benefits, whether it be acne reduction or weight loss, will naturally follow. With that being said, we don’t believe it’s productive to constantly look at yourself in the mirror to see if the acne is going away. It’s a gradual process; please be patient and allow time for the probiotics to restore immune balance.

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You can consume probiotics from food, use a supplement like Floracil50, or incorporate a combination of the two. If going the supplement route, always follow dosage recommendations. We also suggest aiming for a multi-strain supplement with Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. These two were the strains one of the aforementioned studies showed as having beneficial skin properties.

Other Ways to Reduce Acne

If you’re seriously trying to prevent your face from turning into zit city, then incorporate these additional measures into your daily routine:

  • Regularly wash your face with warm water and apply a noncomedogenic and fragrance-free moisturizer.
  • Limit cosmetic makeups; stick to oil-free products without heavy foundations.
  • Drink water; dehydration signals the skin’s oil glands to produce more oil.
  • If you use topical acne creams, use a product formulated for your specific skin type. Some people have oily skin, others have dry skin, while others have combination skin (have both oily and dry areas).

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Probiotics Promote Clear Skin

As you can see, probiotic uses and benefits are diverse. When you make a conscious effort to get more probiotics, you’ll not only feel better but your skin complexion will also reflect the inner changes. The dermal benefits alone are all the more reason to make a supplement like Floracil50 a daily part of a healthy lifestyle.

Citations and Sources

1.
Yan F, Polk D. Probiotics and immune health. Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2011;27(6):496-501. [PMC]
2.
Salmon J, Armstrong C, Ansel J. The skin as an immune organ. West J Med. 1994;160(2):146-152. [PMC]
3.
Mottin V, Suyenaga E. An approach on the potential use of probiotics in the treatment of skin conditions: acne and atopic dermatitis. Int J Dermatol. 2018;57(12):1425-1432. [PubMed]
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Ryan Tronier

Ryan Tronier is a writer and editor who has worked with NBC, ABC, and USA Today.
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