Let’s face it; few things in this life fill you with dread quite like acne breakouts. When your skin is damaged by spots, inflammation, or blotching, finding a quick solution for healthier skin is essential. While you may have encountered many possible treatments, probiotics for acne is one that is likely to have grabbed your attention.
So, can probiotics actually cure your skin conditions to boost your health and well-being? Here’s everything you need to know about the science behind the hows and whys of using probiotic bacteria, along with all other necessary details.
An Introduction To Acne & Other Skin Conditions
Whether it’s acne or rosacea, eczema or other conditions, the symptoms of skin health problems are hard to ignore. The condition will negatively impact your appearance, dent your confidence, and can be very irritating to live with. Before looking for potential treatments, though, it’s imperative to identify the type of skin ailment.
Eczema is characterized by patches of itchy and flaky skin, often yellow or white in color, as well as red and itchy areas. The small bumps are also oily and may ooze a fluid if scratched, including yellow pus that indicated infection.
Otherwise known as atopic dermatitis, the condition is particularly prevalent in babies and children, while it can also cause hair loss in the localized area. The most common forms of eczema are:
- Contact dermatitis, which is when burning and redness are caused by irritants,
- Dyshidrotic dermatitis, which is when itchy and scaly patches appear on palms, fingers, and soles of the feet,
- Nummular dermatitis, which is when dry, round patches appear on the legs – usually in winter,
- Seborrheic dermatitis, which is when the scalp is hit by itchy rashes of redness.
Rosacea is a cyclic chronic skin disorder that can fade and relapse at various stages throughout life. It can be triggered by diet, intestinal bacteria, stress, and a range of additional elements. Common symptoms include dry skin, facial flushing, redness, and red bumps.
The skin condition can be broken into four subcategories, covering a wide variety of symptoms:
- Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea (ETR) relates to flushing and visible blood vessels,
- Papulopustular is an acne-like breakout that most commonly hits middle-aged women,
- Rhinophyma is defined as the thickening of skin on the nose,
- Ocular rosacea is where the symptoms associated with rosacea appear around the eyes.
Acne skin troubles occur because hair follicles become blocked, leading to excess sebum production by the sebaceous glands at the skin’s surface. In turn, the sebum mixes with dead skin cells to plug the hair follicle. If this occurs near the skin surface, it will lead to the development of a whitehead or blackhead.
The appearance of papules, pustules, nodules and cysts occurs when bacteria contaminates the plugged follicles. While the damage to the skin cells is usually harmless, this doesn’t reduce their negative impact on your life or the need to find a suitable treatment – especially in cases where the symptoms cause pain or discomfort.
While many people assume that acne is a sign of poor hygiene and dirty skin, the truth of the matter is that very few cases are attributed to this reason. That’s because, ultimately, the skin inflammation and damage is caused by a change in bacteria levels beneath the skin. This can be caused by your diet, hormones, testosterone, oxidative stress, pregnancy, intestinal bacteria, and various other issues.
The skin is the largest organ of the human body and directly reflects your general health, so it should not surprise you to learn that acne can be attributed to chemical imbalances and other issues beneath the skin’s surface. It’s not merely a case of dirt turning into whiteheads. Either way, probiotics will naturally be one of the acne therapy options to consider.
The Different Types & Stages Of Acne
Acne is a term that describes a number of skin conditions, many of which can appear at the same time. So, while you may (correctly) refer to a range of skin problems as acne, it’s important to appreciate the different elements that could appear. They include:
- Comedones, or basic acne lesions, are when hair follicles are clogged with oil and dead skin cells. This leads to the development of both whiteheads and blackheads.
- Blackheads, which appear black due to light reflections on the hair rather than dirt, are comedones that show on the skin’s surface and are filled with oil and dead skin cells.
- Whiteheads, which are far more common than blackheads, are merely another type of comedo. They are also filled with oil and dead skin cells.
- Papules are characterized by pink or white bumps that appear on the skin’s surface. They are simply comedones that have become inflamed due to irritations.
- Pustules are the pus-filled pimples that look similar to whiteheads but have a red ring surrounding the bumped skin area. The pus is normally white or yellow in color.
- Nodules, which can often be quite painful, are skin bumps that have developed under the skin. The large, inflamed bumps are firm to touch and clear to see but have no head.
- Cysts are another form of acne lesions that resemble boils, are often pus-filled, and can be very painful for the individual.
Regardless of the type of acne suffered, a professional diagnosis from a dermatologist will categorize the condition into one of four groups. These range from Group 1, which is the mildest form of acne and can be characterized by fewer than 20 whiteheads, to more severe cases of acne conglobata (where a network of nodules are connected under the skin) and severe nodulocystic acne (multiple cysts and nodules).
Acne Mechanica is another type of acne that should be considered, and is caused by heat, friction, and pressure against the skin. This is often referred to as sports-induced acne as it is commonly linked to wearing headbands, helmets, and sporting equipment.
Regardless of the type, severity, or reason for developing acne, all sufferers will want to find a suitable treatment.
Traditional Treatment For Acne
In addition to being attributed to different issues, acne and related skin conditions can appear in different parts of the body. After all, the skin is a barrier that covers the entire body, and it is possible for acne symptoms to surface in most places. The most common, however, are:
- The forehead,
- The cheeks,
- The jawline and neck,
- The shoulders,
- The arms,
- The back,
- And the legs.
Regardless of where the symptoms appear or which type of acne occurs, the majority of treatment choices focus on the idea of correcting the chemical imbalances by reducing the bad bacteria and/or increasing the good bacteria while also preventing the combination of excess sebum and dead skin cells.
Given the impact of acne, it’s important to manage each case on its individual merits, which is why a dermatologist or skin health expert will almost certainly be needed. Depending on the type and severity of acne, a variety of procedures and treatments may be prescribed, including but not limited too:
- Over-the-counter medications for minor cases of acne,
- Lasers and light therapies that are designed to reduce P. acnes bacteria levels,
- Chemical peels that are used to treat blackheads and papules,
- Medicine injections into cysts and other major acne features,
- Drainage and extraction procedures that removes cysts that have rejected medicines.
In most cases, a professional diagnosis from a dermatologist will provide the first key step en route to a successful cure. However, the use of probiotics has become an increasingly common choice for sufferers of many skin conditions.
Probiotics And Acne
Probiotics are a group of live bacteria and microorganisms that are beneficial for human health and general well-being. While they are often associated with a good diet digestive health, they can have a telling impact on skin hydration, sebum production, and other elements that can aid your skin and overall health.
Many people refer to probiotics as the friendly bacteria due to their positive impacts on the body, which can extend to the skin and is one of the chief reasons why probiotics is considered by many individuals hoping to boost their skin health. Their main functions are to increase the presence of good bacteria while creating holes in bad bacteria to reduce the latter’s impacts.
There are many types of probiotics that may be used as a treatment to reduce inflammation and acne flare-ups (we’ll discuss those in further detail later on) but individuals considering this route must first familiarize themselves with the potential benefits gained from using probiotics to control systemic inflammation and related problems.
A 2014 press release produced by the American Academy of Dermatology stated that probiotics might be the best treatment for both acne and rosacea, with some of the most telling rewards including;
- Probiotics can form a protective barrier on the skin’s surface. This can supplement the body’s primal defense systems to keep ‘bad bacteria’ at bay, which prevents the undesirable microorganisms from reacting with blocked follicles. In turn, this will prevent acne from striking and taking a toll on your face and body. Antibiotics can stop harmful microbes from breeding and spreading.
- Probiotics have been scientifically shown to actively kill ‘bad bacteria’ too. The systemic inflammation that can cause acne and related skin conditions – is also one of the reasons why probiotics can be used for various additional health issues.
- The way that probiotics work ensures that the beneficial bacteria can impact the brain, gut, and skin in a simultaneous manner. Research has proven the correlations between each of these three elements, which is why using beneficial bacteria for your gut health and diet can boost skin health and appearances as a byproduct.
Probiotics is proposed to be one of the best ways to ensure that the bacteria, hormones, and sebum production all work together in unison to promote and control healthier skin.
What Can Probiotics Help With?
Whether used as a barrier or to boost the skin’s appearance by boasting general health (particularly the gut-skin link), the use of probiotics in the fight against acne has become fairly common and may be used to treat and manage all of the associated symptoms. Whether it’s whiteheads, blackheads, or cysts, probiotics should be considered.
Probiotics are not an instant cure for those skin problems, and should not be used as a replacement for the traditional treatment but rather as an enhancement that can speed up the body’s natural (and medically supported) ability to repair the skin. This helps reduce the visible symptoms while also offering the placebo effect that can inject a sense of confidence.
While it is virtually impossible to collect any quantifiable data on the impacts of probiotics in the fight against acne due to the volume of variables in each case, not to mention how difficult it would be to scientifically monitor patients, it is widely accepted that the benefits of using probiotics are most noticeable for inflammatory strands of skin conditions.
Despite the clear indications that it can be a very successful treatment type, it should be noted that research into the effect of probiotics as an acne prevention tool is very limited. While there are suggestions that it can help, this treatment should be seen for its ongoing management of inflammation and acne rather than the cure.
How Are Probiotics Applied?
The term probiotics describes a large collection of beneficial bacteria. Given that intestinal bacteria covers in excess of 400 types of bacteria, it’s imperative that individuals gain a little insight into the different strands before utilizing any health probiotics into their life.
Firstly, it’s important to know how the probiotics can be applied as this information provides direction on the strategies that may be used. The two main options are;
Topical probiotics, which are applied to the skin directly. They perform a barrier on the skin and can be applied to skin that already shows visual symptoms,
Consumable probiotics that are taken as a food supplement and look to rebalance the bacteria from inside the digestive system.
When opting for consumable probiotic like Jetson, the goal is to replenish the good bacteria that may have been depleted by hormone changes, reduced immune systems, and the impact of medicines and antibiotics. Conversely, the topicals are there to block out the bad bacteria before it has a chance to cause escalating damage.
Which Types Of Probiotics Can Be Used?
Probiotics are best used in conjunction with traditional treatment, which is another reason to gain a professional diagnosis from a dermatologist as they can point you towards the types of probiotics that are most likely to cause a positive impact.
Even if you plan to see a specialist, it’s important to appreciate the different types of probiotics on the market, including both topical and consumable solutions. The most common are as follows:
Lactobacillus is the most common probiotics to aid general skin health and restore the balance of bacteria within the body. This is the type of probiotic that is often found in fermented foods such as yogurts and can help control acne by boosting the user’s general well-being from an internal position.
The use of lactobacillus either as a supplement or food can reduce the damage by stopping some of the triggers for further escalation of acne symptoms. While this type of probiotics can certainly aid the cause, it is best used in conjunction with existing acne treatments including creams, serums, diet changes, and more.
Bifidobacterium is another strand of probiotics that can be found in several foods, most notably in several dairy products, or may be taken as a supplement. The boost of healthy bacteria primarily treats Irritable Bowel Syndrome and related issues, but the links between gut health and clear skin ensure that it can be a good addition.
The gut-acne link is clear to see, which is why the foods traveling down the GI tract are as important as the products applied to the skin. Bifidobacterium is undoubtedly one of the most effective probiotics for boosting gut health, and this can lead to clearer pores and reduced visibility of symptoms such as whiteheads.
Other probiotics – as topicals or consumable – do exist too. Fighting bad bacteria in the GI tract, which are often promoted by the sugary foods we eat, can significantly boost overall health. In turn, it can be shown to reduce the visible signs of acne while also stopping eczema flare-ups.
The Growing Trend Of Probiotics
Probiotics has become a popular treatment choice for several reasons. Notable issues include the growing understanding of the benefits (thanks to the easy access to information on the subject) as well as improved accessibility to topicals and supplements. Likewise, in a world where acne breakouts can seem like a nightmare, sufferers are keen to try anything.
Probiotics have been used for at least a century, with their impact on the gut being proposed as early as 1907 by Russian Nobel laureate Elie Metchnikoff. However, the potential rewards in relation to acne (and gut health) have gained major attention over the last 20 years, with probiotics being used for children and adults alike. In many cases, individuals take matters into their own hands by buying probiotics foods.
All of this has seen the market grow at an exponential rate while forecasts show that the sector’s value will climb from the current $52bn to a huge $69bn (32%) by 2023. While acne treatment is far from the only health problem that probiotics are administered for, the common skin condition is undoubtedly one of the chief reasons for the industry growth.
Probiotics And Antibiotics: A Word Of Warning
Probiotics are good bacteria, but they aren’t a magic cure for acne or any other condition. In truth, their function is merely to correct the bacteria imbalances, including those that are self-inflicted by bad diet choices. Consequently, then, there are several issues that need to be accounted for before introducing probiotics into the acne management strategy;
- They are not a replacement for other medical and dermatology treatments
- They are unlikely to completely remove acne symptoms
You need to know that probiotics will only have the desired impact when you choose a healthy option. This means selecting high-quality probiotic topicals and, even more importantly, high-quality probiotics supplements. Putting the wrong stuff into your body is never a wise move, which is why confirming plans with a medical expert, a dermatologist, or a nutritionist is advised.
As well as using probiotics, some people try to use antibiotics. Antibiotics do nothing to treat viral infections, though, and relying on them for bacteria corrections when they aren’t needed can cause several problems.
Essentially, anyone hoping to incorporate either antibiotics or probiotics into their lives must conduct the right research to ensure they’ve taken the right type.
The Final Word
The use of probiotics is nothing new, and is a concept that has been utilized for several generations in a bid to restore balance and create a thriving environment for bacteria. While their benefits as a preventive measure against inflammation and flare-ups may be limited, beneficial bacteria’s ability to boost overall health and well-being may limit the damage caused by acne while also helping the body’s natural primal defense systems.
Probiotics can be an incredibly effective way to control acne inflammation, eczema, and a host of other issues. Probiotics work to manage sebum production while also blocking bad bacteria from infecting the area. While probiotics should be used with care, there is no question that they are a godsend for individuals suffering from a range of skin conditions.
If planning to use probiotics, though, speaking to a doctor or dermatologist in order to find the very best product is essential.