It’s important to remember that probiotics play a role in overall health – not just the gut microbiome. Skin health is impacted by the various bacteria that reside in our bodies and on the surface of our skin.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, poor gut health can adversely affect the condition of our skin. A combination of factors like stress, a diet high in sugar and processed foods, and a lack of fiber can lead to indigestion. Indigestion then creates the perfect conditions for harmful bacteria to thrive. This imbalance can then cause what is known as a leaky gut, whereby toxins leak directly into the bloodstream causing flare ups and inflammation like atopic dermatitis (eczema), acne and rosacea.
A study in Korea involved 56 individuals suffering from acne who were made to drink a lactobacillus fermented drink over the course of 12 weeks. Subjects were able to significantly reduce their acne lesion count and oil production.
An Italian study had two groups, one of which was given probiotics on top of their usual treatments for acne and rosacea. The group that was given the probiotics experienced better clearing of their symptoms as compared to the group that was not.
Scientists have even been able to identify various strains of bacteria that help in the treatment of certain skin conditions. Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Lactococcus, Lactobacillus, and Enterococcus are the ones which showed the highest potential to control acne. While Vitreoscilla filiformis (V. filiformis), Staphylococcus epidermidis (S. epidermidis), and species of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium were most effective in the treatment of atopic dermatitis.
While more research continues to be done on this, medical experts believe probiotics could serve as an effective combination therapy together with prescription or over the counter medication. And it goes without saying that a diet of whole foods, foods that contain live, active cultures (not too much sugar!), reduced daily stress, regular exercise and proper hydration all contribute to improved skin health.