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Doctors Explain: What are the Best Probiotics for Acne

Doctors Explain: What are the Best Probiotics for Acne

As one of the most prevalent skin conditions, acne can be caused by numerous underlying factors, including low zinc, genetics, inflammation, hormones, hygiene, and diet. While there may be several treatments for adult acne, one inclusive method is by using probiotics for acne.

In this article we will look at clinical studies to figure out how and why probiotics are helpful for acne. We will also look at clinical studies to see if probiotics are indeed helpful for acne

Probiotics for Better Mood and Diet Choices

Does your diet influence your gut bacteria or do your gut bacteria influence your diet? That is the question researchers have been trying to answer. Studies involving rats have found evidence that probiotics have a significant effect on mental health and food seeking behavior.

For example, one study found that supplementation with Bifidobacteria reduced brain stress hormones in rats and doubling the Lactobacilli found in feces by supplementing their diet with Lactobacillus probiotics contributed to reduced anxiety-like behavior.1

Stress and anxiety can impact dietary decisions. Mice normally opt for high-fat foods, but when stressed, mice are more likely to pick high-carbohydrate foods.2 In humans, diets high in refined carbohydrates have been linked to adult acne.3

Indeed, our research has found that one of the ways to combat acne is to start observing a low-carbohydrate diet or to implement a low-glycemic index diet. Probiotics may help support mood and healthier diet choices.

Digestive Problems are Associated with Acne

Studies show that the state of digestive health can affect your acne. In one study 13,215 adolescents filled out a questionnaire survey to determine risk factors of sebaceous gland diseases (including acne, seborrheic dermatitis, and androgenic alopecia). The report found a statistically significant correlation between adolescents with acne and gastrointestinal symptoms such as halitosis, gastric reflux, bloating, and constipation.5

What is interesting is that constipation is associated with lower levels of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria.4, 5, 6 Taking these probiotics helps support normal bowel movements and may be helpful for acne.

Not only are probiotics helpful for gastrointestinal problems but they may help reduce inflammation as well.

Probiotics for Inflammation

Inflammation plays a central role in the pathogenesis of acne. Inflammation causes the immune reaction that makes pimples larger and more inflamed. One study found that taking the probiotic L. casei  orally was able to lower the release of inflammatory cytokines in the skin.7

In a study from 1961, Robert H. Siver, a physician from Union Memorial Hospital, studied 300 patients who had been given a commercially available probiotic supplement containing L. acidophilus and L. bulgaricus. Dr. Siver found that 80%of the patients with acne showed some degree of improvement, most prominently in those with forms of inflammatory acne. The study lacked a control, but the study still suggested an interaction between gastrointestinal health and acne.8

In a more recent study, 36 patients were given either fermented milk product containing probiotics and enriched with 200mg lactoferrin daily or fermented milk product with probiotics alone. After 12 weeks, the group receiving the lactoferrin-enriched fermented milk had a greater decrease in total lesion count compared to the group that received fermented milk alone (56% versus 32.2%).9 Although the group treated with lactoferrin-enriched fermented milk product had greater improvements, the improvement of acne in the group treated with just a probiotic beverage should not be dismissed. These results support the role of probiotics as an adjuvant in acne treatment.

Probiotics can improve results when using antibiotics for acne

One final study we found examined the use of probiotic supplementation in conjunction with traditional antibiotic treatments for acne. One group was treated only with probiotics, another received only the antibiotic minocycline, and a third group received both a probiotic supplement and minocycline.

After four weeks, all patients showed improvements in acne lesion counts with steady improvement during each follow-up. By the end of the 12-week period, the group receiving both the probiotic supplement and antibiotic had more significant decreases in lesion count compared to the other two groups.

This suggests that probiotics may act as an effective adjunct for acne vulgaris by regulating inflammation while reducing any potential side effects from antibiotics used for acne.10

Based on the clinical evidence, probiotics have a role as an adjuvant in the treatment of acne. Should they be the only treatment for acne? No. They should be used along with other treatments and diet changes for acne.

Probiotics have the ability to reduce inflammation, support a healthy mood, and healthy eating habits. DrFormulas® Nexabiotic® probiotics features 23 strains of probiotics including Lactobacillius and Bifidobacterium and is included in Dermatrope™ Clear Skin Support Supplement.


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  8. Siver, R. H. "Lactobacillus for the control of acne." J Med Soc New Jersey59 (1961): 52-53.