Probiotics for Acne: Do They Really Work?

Acne sufferers have a new weapon in the fight for clear skin. Probiotics for acne treatment are popping up in skin care products with regularity, but do they really work as well as advertised?

Probiotics are bacteria that have proven to be helpful for a number of health conditions including food sensitivities, irritable bowel syndrome, and many types of infections. A study in the Journal of Cosmetic Science shows that probiotics applied topically to the skin reduced the onset of acne lesions by up to 57 percent compared to untreated skin.

Another study authored by dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe of Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York reported by the American Academy of Dermatology showed probiotics can block skin cells from sensing bad bacteria so that the immune system doesn’t form acne in response, a phenomenon known as “bacterial interference” that leads to fewer breakouts.

Another way probiotics fight acne, according to Bowe, is by eating holes in bad bacteria, which then kills them.

Bowe also advocates taking oral probiotics to treat acne. In 2014, Bowe reviewed a theory from the 1930s called the “gut-brain-skin axis,” which states that stress or poor eating habits can cause the gut to overproduce harmful bacteria, leading to IBS or leaky gut problems. These problems can trigger immune reactions that in turn cause skin redness and acne.

Studies as old as 1961 and as new as 2010 have shown that taking daily oral probiotics for acne reduces acne lesions for up to 80 percent of users. Both topical and oral probiotics can be gentle, non-irritating ways to treat acne for sufferers who may be sensitive to chemical and drug-based treatments that can cause redness, stinging, and peeling of the skin.

As more and more studies confirm the benefits of probiotics for acne treatment, it seems clear that these beneficial, naturally occurring bacteria may show great promise in helping reduce acne breakouts while improving the overall health of the body.

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