Probiotics seem to be the latest buzzword in skin care. And the scientific research investigating these skin health benefits is growing exponentially. The hype is there, but do probiotics actually work for acne?
If you are curious to understand how the gut and skin are connected, what are probiotics and whether probiotics can help relieve your acne breakouts, here is everything you need to know.
The gut-skin connection
It might come as a surprise to some that the gut could have any impact whatsoever on the skin. Gut health plays an extremely important role in our overall health and wellbeing. The gut microbiome is a complex ‘ecosystem’ of trillions of different microorganisms that are involved in regulating our immune system, hormones, and metabolic health . The food we eat, lifestyle factors like sleep and exercise, and even our stress levels can all impact gut health, for better or worse. When the ecosystem is balanced, and beneficial microbes dominate (these are also called commensal microbes), this makes for good digestive function, and good health. However, when the balance between “good” and “bad” microbes is disrupted, and the “bad” microbes dominate, this imbalance is called dysbiosis.
In response to dysbiosis, inflammation, or infection in the gut, the gaps between the cells lining the gut can become larger and permeable, causing what is known as “leaky gut.” The gut and the skin barrier are very similar in terms of their purpose and function, to keep pathogens out and protect the body from infection. However, when the gut lining becomes "leaky", food molecules, microorganisms or toxins that shouldn't be able to pass through, can now enter the bloodstream . When the immune system detects these ‘invaders’, it sees this as a threat, and launches a big inflammatory attack. This is how poor gut health can cause systemic inflammation, negatively impacting the health and appearance of the skin.
Does gut health affect acne?
Short answer, yes! There is a bidirectional connection between the gut and our skin, called the gut-skin axis. This connection is mediated by the immune system . Poor gut health is actually linked to many skin conditions, particularly ones that have an inflammatory component like acne, rosacea, psoriasis and eczema . Research has shown that people with acne often have intestinal dysbiosis, as well as less variability in the number of microbial species they have in their gut . One study found that in 114 people with acne, 54% had dysbiosis . When thinking about how to treat acne, gut health should be a top priority.
What are probiotics for skin and gut?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that can provide health benefits when ingested. They are not only beneficial for digestive health but are increasingly being investigated in scientific research for the treatment of a variety of inflammatory skin conditions, including acne . Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are two of the most common probiotic species used for skin and gut, as these bacteria are dominant in a healthy microbiome . Interestingly, people with acne have much lower levels of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium compared to healthy controls, and higher incidence of gut issues like constipation . It’s important to note that the health benefits of probiotics are strain specific, meaning different probiotic strains are indicated for the management of different conditions. Taking probiotics should be done using a targeted approach. Using a general probiotic will not necessarily mean you will see results for skin health.
If you’re looking to address skin health with probiotics, Vida Glow’s Clear is formulated with a specific probiotic for skin and gut called Acusolve™. AcuSolve™ is a trademarked strain of Lactobacillus rhamnosus that has demonstrated effects on the gut-skin axis . Clear contains Acusolve™ at the clinically trialled dose of 3 billion CFU to nourish beneficial intestinal flora, support skin health and relieve symptoms of acne.
Do probiotics help with acne?
Acne is a complex skin condition that involves many factors including excess production of oil, overgrowth of acne-causing bacteria, a build-up of skin cells in the pore causing a ‘plug’, and skin inflammation. Benefits of probiotics for acne are numerous and emerging research shows that the use of probiotics may reduce breakouts .
Cell studies have demonstrated that probiotic strains can produce antibacterial substances that inhibit the growth of acne-causing bacteria . Other studies have shown that probiotics have an anti-inflammatory action, provide beneficial effects on skin barrier function, which is often disrupted in acne , and reduce markers of oxidative stress .
Studies in humans have reported that probiotics can reduce inflammation, repair intestinal permeability, and nourish intestinal flora, thereby restoring balance to the gut microbiome . Reductions in acne spots and oil secretion have also been observed with probiotics for acne treatment .
Lactobacillus rhamnosus, as found in Vida Glow’s Clear, may be one of the best probiotic for skin and gut. A 12 – week clinical trial in adults with acne found that the probiotic strain had significant benefits on the expression of certain hormones involved in acne. Over 80% of the people in the probiotic group experienced an improvement in their acne symptoms. No benefits were seen in the placebo group. The researchers speculated the probiotic worked by correcting intestinal dysbiosis, further solidifying the importance of the gut-skin connection .
How long do probiotics take to work for acne?
Taking probiotics for acne is not a quick fix. Because they are working on correcting imbalances at the gut level, it can take some time to feel the benefits. Most clinical trials show optimal benefits for acne after 12 weeks, so it would be worthwhile sticking with it for at least 3 months.
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