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Integrative Family Health Clinic in Bolton and the Greater Caledon Area
4-22 Simona Drive
Bolton, ON

Do Probiotics Help for Clear Skin?

Probiotics are live, active microorganisms like bacteria and yeast that are naturally occurring in the body. When dysbiosis or infection occurs, harmful microbes propagate and flourish while our “friendly microbes” that keep us healthy, die off. This can cause an array of problems ranging from gas and bloating, to reduced immune function, and even skin concerns. Yes, the skin! Acne, eczema and psoriasis or plain old itchy skin and bumpy rashes can be a result of changes in your microbial composition.

Although probiotics are typically used to support gastrointestinal health, recent studies have shown that introducing probiotic rich foods and supplementation may also benefit the skin. Incorporating probiotics as part of a whole-person, professional-led plan may positively impact the gut-skin relationship and provide relief for stubborn dermatological disorders.

The Microbiome-Skin Connection

Similar to the digestive system, the skin harbours a complex ecosystem of bacteria, fungi, and viruses which each serve a very important purpose. Our bodies constantly exchange microbes with our environment and our microbes may change with hormones fluctuations or with age. This “skin microbiome” has been known to impact our gut microbiome in many ways through what researchers call the gut-skin axis. 

For instance, disruptions in the gut microbiome can trigger an immune response and the release of inflammatory mediators that then disrupt skin physiology. What does that look like? Irritated, angry skin!

Probiotics and Skin Conditions 

Different probiotic strains confer different effects on the skin environment, so knowing what strains to pick can be crucial when shopping for your probiotic. For instance, Lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium can help mediate skin inflammation and are great for conditions like atopic or allergic contact dermatitis. If you want to be even more specific, Lactobacillus acidophilus is great for rosacea since it has a calming effect and can soothe irritation or redness of the skin. 

When in doubt, opting for a broad-spectrum probiotic with a variety of strains is a great option to ensure you are covering your bases. A broad-spectrum probiotic is a supplement with multiple strains of beneficial microbes. 

If you have any of the following concerns listed below, probiotics may be a helpful option for you to consider:

      • Acne
      • Eczema
      • Psoriasis
      • Rosacea
      • Hives
      • Dermatitis
      • Wound healing
      • Wrinkles
      • Scleroderma

Probiotics and Acne

Acne can be caused by dietary triggers, stress, sleep disruptions, androgens, and more. Though probiotics can benefit many cases of acne, not all acne is rooted in the digestive system. Furthermore, probiotics as a stand-alone treatment might not be enough to treat severe, cystic, treatment-resistant acne. It’s important to set expectations and know that probiotics can be a great part of a treatment when choosing the right dose, the right strains, and the right delivery. 

So what does that mean? What does the research say? Well, probiotics have been studied in patients with mild-moderate acne and have been shown to successfully improve the skin’s clarity and reduce breakouts.

We know that the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes lives on the skin and can cause acne (along with other bacteria). The wonderful thing about probiotics is that it can help control the growth of these acne-causing bacteria through the gut-skin axis. These helpful microbes have antibacterial proteins and substances that kill off bad bacteria and reduce inflammation on the skin—a win-win!

Recent trials show that both oral and topical probiotics may have a positive effect on the skin. One of the main advantages to taking an oral probiotic is that it can help influence the intestinal microbiota and it can also work on metabolic pathways involving insulin. In addition, the vast majority of the research on probiotics has been using oral formulations rather than the topical preparations. For this reason, one might be more inclined to use an oral supplement or probiotic rich foods rather than applying probiotics in a cream or gel form.

Probiotic-rich foods that you may want to consider for clear skin include:

      • Yogurt
      • Kefir
      • Sauerkraut
      • Kimchi
      • Miso
      • Tempeh
      • Kombucha

Naturopathic Care and Skin Health

Addressing skin health can be complex and probiotics may not be that silver bullet for you. It’s important to consider all of the factors that contribute to our digestive, hormonal, immune, and skin health before jumping blindly towards treatments that may or may not work. 

Part of working with a naturopathic doctor is getting a holistic perspective on how each system of the body influences the next. Without addressing the foundations of health like exercise, sleep, diet, and stress it’s hard for any treatment to work effectively. The body and the mind need to work together in harmony.

My work as a naturopathic doctor involves an in-depth intake and comprehensive testing, where appropriate, to narrow down the root cause of your skin concern. Through this process, I can help develop a targeted treatment plan that supports the gut-skin axis through herbs, acupuncture, supplements, and food. Using my expertise I can also help guide you away from products that may be worsening your skin or failing to address what’s really going on. Or, I may swap out certain probiotic strains for others to ensure that we are using evidence-based recommendations for the best possible outcome. Ultimately, there are a lot of treatments for clear skin out there, but knowing which one is right for you may require some help.

If you are interested in starting your journey towards healthy, clear skin,
then book in to learn more!