You've no doubt seen the numerous commercials over the last few years touting the benefits of probiotics for a healthy digestive system. It may have never occurred to you that there might also be a connection to skin care. As unlikely as it may sound, research has shown that use of probiotics can have a positive effect in treating acne as well.

Just what are probiotics?

Relationship Between Acne and Probiotics

Probiotics are live microorganisms found most commonly in yogurt and other fermented foods. The bacteria in probiotics are classified as "good" bacteria because of their extensive health benefits.

Since antibiotics are frequently prescribed for acne, treating it with bacteria may seem counterintuitive.  The problem with antibiotics is the fact that they eliminate ALL bacteria – both good and bad.  Probiotics actually balance the negative effects that occur, such as yeast infections, when antibiotics eliminate both good and bad bacteria.

Link between digestion and complexion

Poor digestion can happen as the result of emotional factors such as stress and anxiety as well as a diet high in processed foods and low in fiber. This has a negative effect on your inner microbial levels, which creates a system-wide inflammatory response that can include acne breakouts. Doctors refer to this as the "gut-brain-skin axis".

Other beneficial properties of probiotics

  • As "good" bacteria, probiotics can attack and kill "bad" bacteria, preventing them from triggering an inflammatory response.
  • Probiotics applied topically to the skin create "bacterial interference" by keeping skin cells from sensing and reacting to harmful bacteria and parasites.
  • When skin cells enlist the help of the immune system to fight bad bacteria, certain types of probiotics can act as a "calming" influence by producing healthy signals that neutralize inflammation. 

Probiotics link to acne

A study of the probiotic-acne connection dates back to the early 1960s, but the idea has gained traction during the last few years. Researchers around the world have conducted tests showing the positive benefits of probiotics with fast acne treatment, such as a 2010 study published in Nutrition where acne patients who consumed a probiotics-laden beverage for 12 weeks produced less sebum and suffered fewer acne lesions.

What the future holds for probiotics and acne treatment

While there are currently probiotic skin care products on the market, we can expect to see many more in the near future according to NY-based dermatologist and professor Whitney P. Bowe. Dr. Bowe says research is continuing to identify the most productive strains of probiotics and determine whether oral or topical applications are better. 

You don't have to wait to find out if probiotics are a solution for you. Talk to your dermatologist about current skin care products and how to stop pimples incorporating probiotics into your diet via foods or supplements.