Could Probiotics Really Help Treat Acne?

It appears the search for an effective acne treatment is now focused on the intestinal tract. That might lead to some head-scratching, but research linking the bacteria in our guts with the complexion of our skin is gaining traction, including coverage from the American Academy of Dermatology, headquartered near our plastic surgery and dermatology practice serving Naperville.

Recent stories touting the idea that probiotics may help clear up skin are based on early research into the complicated relationship between good digestive health and a good complexion. Both the gastrointestinal tract and the skin are organs that help the body’s detoxification process. If our GI tract is overburdened by unhealthy bacteria, it can lead to chronic inflammation, which can cause acne and other skin problems.

Probiotics are healthy bacteria that are probably most well-known from yogurt commercials featuring the actress Jaime Lee Curtis. The dermatology academy issued an article earlier this year explaining that some dermatologists believe oral probiotics — taken through supplements or in yogurts containing live cultures — “could influence skin conditions such as acne and rosacea by affecting what is known as the ‘gut-brain-skin axis.'”

Essentially, the idea is that stress and a poor diet are key contributors to triggering outbreaks of skin conditions such as acne. This occurs when unhealthy bacteria erode the intestinal lining, allowing toxins to leak into the bloodstream and cause inflammation throughout the body. Probiotic supplements, according to early research, along with dietary changes, can seal the leaky intestines and counteract those triggers. The dermatology academy article also says topical probiotics applied as masks, creams, or cleansers may benefit the skin.

At Dermatology & Plastic Surgery Associates, we’re intrigued by the early studies but believe more research is needed before we begin to make probiotics a routine part of acne treatment. For patients who are currently struggling with acne, the best step to take is consulting with a qualified dermatologist who can provide acne care with clinically proven treatments.