Can You Treat Acne With Probiotics?
It can certainly ruin your morning if you wake up and notice that you’ve got zits on your face. The worse thing is, instead of going away, it seems to keep on multiplying to the point that it covers your entire face. Sometimes it even extends to your back and chest area. Plus it doesn’t seem to respond to any treatment either.
Truth is, acne problems can be very persistent and your suffering doesn’t end with your teenage years. It can plague you in your whole adult life. It’s more than just skin deep. Many people who suffer from serious acne problems have reported feeling self-conscious and losing self-confidence.
There is no silver bullet that can cure all types of acne but some people swear by probiotics. So, can probiotics prevent or treat acne? It can, to a certain degree. But is it right for you? Read on to find out.
What is Acne?
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne is the most common skin condition in the US. It affects up to 50 million people a year, mostly teenagers. More and more women are also developing acne even in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.
Acne happens when the sebaceous glands in our skin produce too much oil. Because of this, the hair follicles get clogged up with oil, dirt and dead skin cells. This results in inflammation and bumps on our skin’s surface.
Since most of our oil glands are located in the face, acne breakouts most often occur in that area. It can happen in the chest, upper back and shoulders too.
If you look closely at an acne breakout, you’ll see that blemishes can range from small bumps to all-out pustules. According to Medical News Today, there are six types of acne:
What Causes Acne?
There are a variety of factors that can prompt the oil glands in our skin to go overdrive. Some of them are:
- Genetics – if one or both of your parents had acne, chances are you’ll suffer from it too.
- Oil-based cosmetics – it can worsen your skin’s oiliness thus clogging skin pores.
- Pressure – tight collars, helmets, chin straps and anything that squeezes parts of your face can worsen your acne. The straps accumulate dirt and bacteria which then rubs on your skin and enters your pores.
- Hormones – hormonal changes can also cause drastic changes to your skin’s oil production. If it’s too much, it clogs your pores. If there’s not enough oil, your skin will appear dry and scaly which makes it more susceptible to inflammation.
- Medications – some drugs like corticosteroid, testosterone or lithium affects your hormones and cause acne.
- Diet – The foods you eat can also affect your skin. Some of it can even trigger or worsen your acne.
Sometimes, acne can be caused by a combination of any or all of the above factors.
How Do Probiotics Impact Acne?
We’ve all heard about probiotics and its many benefits. But first, what are probiotics?
Your body is a host to billions of microorganisms, some of which can make you sick. But probiotics are a type of microorganisms often dubbed as the “good bacteria”. That’s because unlike its harmful counterpart, this bacteria is beneficial for you.
It crowds out the bad bacteria to maintain a healthy balance of microorganisms within your body. An imbalance of bacteria can lead to various health issues.
Since most of these microorganisms reside in your gut, probiotics are largely known for the prevention and treatment of digestive problems.
But the health benefits of probiotics extend beyond our digestive system. It also does wonders for our immune system, throat, mouth, ears, heart illness, and even diabetes.
One major health benefit of probiotics is its anti-inflammatory properties. This allows it to treat and prevent various health issues and skin inflammations like acne.
The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology even wrote about its promising impact on chronic acne. Although more studies have to be conducted, they’re confident that probiotics may very well be the future of acne treatment.
A review published in the International Journal for Women’s Health explores the use of probiotics for acne treatment and immune regulation. The results of several clinical trials were promising.
In Italy, patients who received oral probiotics have shown a decrease in acne lesions. They also exhibited improved overall skin condition.
While a clinical trial in South Korea used topical probiotics to relieve skin inflammations. The participants showed an acne reduction of about 50%.
Oral or Topical Probiotics?
For treating acne, researchers suggest that probiotics can be applied topically, orally or both.
Topical probiotics form a barrier that shields your skin against harmful bacteria and toxins. This prevents them from getting into your skin and causing an immune system response. The probiotics’ antimicrobial property also helps your skin fight back and kill the bad bacteria before it does any harm.
Oral probiotic supplements, on the other hand, help your body fight acne from within.
When your body detects harmful foreign bodies, it automatically triggers your immune system to fight back. Yet, there are times when your body’s responses overreact. They tell your body to fight back even when there is no intruder. This creates an unnecessary inflammation which can turn to full-blown acne.
Probiotics create a healthy gut flora which improves that immune reaction. It calms inflammatory responses thus lowering the risk for acne breakouts.
Antibiotics are also commonly used to treat acne. However, with the growing number of people who have developed resistance to antibiotics, probiotics are a great alternative. It is a bacteria that is already present in your body thus there is a lesser chance for your body to develop an adverse reaction to it.
What are the Best Probiotics For Acne?
Not everyone knows this but there are thousands of probiotic strains out there. Each one has its function. Take Bionaze for example. It’s a probiotic supplement specially formulated to improve ear, nose, throat and mouth health. It contains two cutting-edge strains Bl-04 and BLIS K12 which is great for oral and respiratory health. Thus, when choosing a probiotic supplement for your acne, make sure that it has the right strains.
One of the strains that are identified to reduce acne is Lactobacillus Acidophilus or L. Acidophilus. It’s also one of the most common strains of probiotics.
This bacteria is naturally found in your intestine and helps your body in producing lactic acid. Fermented foods like cheese, yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut contain high quantities of this probiotic strain.
Aside from easing infections, L. Acidophilus also prevents and reduces allergic reactions. Apart from that, several studies have found that it reduces itchiness and pain when the skin becomes inflamed.
Another probiotic for acne that experts recommend is Lactobacillus Bifidobacterium or L. Bifidobacterium. Its antimicrobial property helps your skin fight and destroy unwanted bacteria and toxins. Like L. Acidophilus, this strain is also known to regulate immune system responses preventing unnecessary inflammations.
When choosing which probiotic supplement to use for your acne, experts recommend looking for those that contain both of the above strains. Supplements should also be backed-up with an intake of probiotic-rich foods to maximize their effects.
But how long does it take for probiotics to work? Unlike medications, probiotics don’t work overnight. It can take a few weeks before you can actually feel any difference in your skin. However, once it started working, the effects are usually longer-lasting.
For the past decade, several studies have been made to determine how probiotics affect skin health. So far, results have been promising. Most studies confirm that it reduces inflammation in the hair follicles thus preventing it from being clogged.
Best of all, unlike most prescription medicines, there are lesser reported side effects of probiotics. It even contributes to the improvement of your overall health not just your skin.
Experts, however, highly recommend talking to your doctor or dermatologist first before starting your probiotic routine especially if you are taking other medications and antibiotics.
Can Probiotics Make Acne Worse?
Like most treatments, probiotics has its limitations. Sometimes it doesn’t work because the cause of acne is beyond what probiotics can do. While it generally helps with skin health, there are rare instances where it can make acne worse.
Remember that probiotics strains vary widely. If you’re taking the wrong kind of strain, it might do more harm than good. Also, if your gut already has a problem, probiotics can stir up the bacteria population in it and cause an imbalance. This can show up in your skin in the form of acne.
There are times too when your body is still adjusting to probiotics. It might recognize the good bacteria as a potential threat. So it flares up and inflammations break out for the first few days. It’s a normal immune process. But when it gets used to the bacteria and no longer considers it a threat, that’s when probiotics can start its real work.
If this happened to you, it’s wise to wait it out for a few weeks and see if it clears out. When the breakouts continue, you can try switching to other brands or consult your dermatologist.