REVIEW: Can Probiotics cause YOU Acne?

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She hopes not….

There are many similarities between the gut and the skin, and even though they are distant structures, research shows they are linked together in various ways. Are you in a hurry? No time to read? Click here for best Soap Probiotic to clear your skin now.

They are both heavily vascularized and innervated; they both have an abundant flora with many microbial communities that compete with each other and interact with the environment and the immune system.

Moreover, the skin and the intestinal lining are both essential to maintain our homeostasis, and their integrity is necessary for our survival. So lets find out with our Probiotics for Acne Review…..

It is well known that dietary changes have an impact on the skin. We can see that association clearly and instantly in cases of food allergies. The skin immediately changes and triggers allergic conditions that may turn out to be fatal at times. It is also known that high carbohydrate and sugar increase the risk of acne as a result of an overproduction of lipids in the hair follicle sebaceous glands. So, can probiotics contribute to this risk? If you started using probiotics recently and ended up with a pimple you may wonder, can probiotics cause acne?

Is there a link between gut microbiota and skin disease?

Even in the world of Fashion such as Vogue this is a huge issue. In one word, yes, there is. We have briefly reviewed how similar the gut and the skin are in structure and function, and how they are connected with each other. This association has been termed gut-skin axis, and sometimes gut-brain-skin axis, and it has been thoroughly described in the scientific literature. Not every mechanism has been explored or described, but we know that certain metabolites of the gut microbiota can regulate skin functions either directly or indirectly.

Health Effects of Probiotics on the Skin

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For example, species such as Bifidobacterium, Bacteroides, Lactobacillus, and Prevotella create short-chain fatty acids (including acetate, butyrate, and propionate). They have anti-inflammatory effects that influence the immune function in the skin. Bacillus species in the gut synthesize trimethylamine, which prevents or reduces the fragility of keratinocytes (the most common cells in epidermis, commonly known to contain a sturdy and resistant protein called keratin). And both Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species are known to improve the barrier function and inhibiting the sensation of itch.

In some cases, patients with a disturbed intestinal barrier would also allow for intestinal bacteria and their metabolites to access the bloodstream. In this situation, metabolites reach directly into the blood and disrupt skin homeostasis. At the same time, the organism triggers a series of inflammatory reactions that may lead to a number of skin conditions. One of them is psoriasis, an inflammatory skin condition commonly triggered by stress and other diseases, and the blood of these patients has been found to contain DNA of intestinal bacteria, which is highly suggestive that the gut microbiome is behind a serious alteration of the cutaneous homeostasis.

Probiotics and acne vulgaris

Acne vulgaris is the clinical name of acne, a skin condition characterized by the appearance of pustules, papules, and non-inflammatory comedones. They are caused by an oversecretion of sebum and hyperkeratinization of the skin with excessive production of cytokines. In many cases, it is associated with dietary factors, as commented above, but sometimes it may be caused by a microbial dysbiosis in the skin and the gut.

In most cases of acne, the bacterium Cutibacterium acnes is involved in the pathogenesis of the disease, but despite being one of the most commonly studied microorganisms, the exact mechanism of disease is not completely understood. Even though Cutibacterium acnes is behind this skin condition, it is also important to maintain skin homeostasis, and it appears to proliferate and turn against the skin when there is an overproduction of sebaceous glands and excessive production of inflammatory cytokines.

As for the paper of the gut microbiota to induce acne vulgaris, it is known that intestinal dysbiosis and the production of Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1) by the gut microbiota is behind the pathogenesis of the disease. Moreover, studies suggest that Western diets with high glycemic loads increase the production of IGF-1 by these intestinal microbes and favor the appearance of acne vulgaris.

It is possible that both intestinal dysbiosis, an overproduction of sebaceous glands, and proliferation of Cutibacterium acnes act synergistically in a never-ending loop that promotes and aggravates acne in these patients. For example, according to some models proposed by different authors, gut dysbiosis triggers the IGF-1 release, which induces the overproduction of sebaceous glands, and this favors the colonization and proliferation of Cutibacterium acnes in the pilosebaceous unit.

There are other explanations and models, but all of them agree that there’s a strong relationship between gut dysbiosis and acne. Thus, it is possible to use probiotic-based supplements and probiotic foods to modulate gut microbiota and aid in the treatment of acne. As a support of this assumption, there are studies with different probiotic strains that demonstrated a significant improvement in acne symptoms after 12 weeks of supplementation.

Of course as well as taking Probioitcs orally we must also consider the effects of applying a soap based Probioitc to the skin.


Certain studies suggest that probiotic use may lead to certain side effects experiences by few people, and sometimes skin rash is listed among them. However, acne vulgaris is apparently relieved instead of aggravated or triggered by probiotics, and patients with probiotics who started to experience acne vulgaris should consider more likely causes before suspecting it is a side effect of probiotics.

So CAN probiotics cause acne?

In a nutshell, there’s an undeniable link between the gut microbiota and skin health. Many bacterial species in the human gut can synthesize various metabolites with a significant effect on the skin, and gut dysbiosis is associated with a higher production of IGF-1 and other cytokines, which may ultimately trigger Cutibacterium acnesproliferation and the symptoms of acne vulgaris. However, instead of favoring gut dysbiosis, probiotics are known for regulating gut microbiota and achieving a favorable balance of microbes that would improve the symptoms of acne instead of triggering them or making them worse.


Salem, I., Ramser, A., Isham, N., & Ghannoum, M. A. (2018). The gut microbiome as a major regulator of the gut-skin axis. Frontiers in microbiology9.

O’Neill, C. A., Monteleone, G., McLaughlin, J. T., & Paus, R. (2016). The gut‐skin axis in health and disease: A paradigm with therapeutic implications. BioEssays38(11), 1167-1176.

Szántó, M., Dózsa, A., Antal, D., Szabó, K., Kemény, L., & Bai, P. (2019). Targeting the gut‐skin axis—Probiotics as new tools for skin disorder management?. Experimental dermatology.

About Simon Bendini 55 Articles
Hello, I'm an expert in all things Probiotics. I also live and breathe what I write about: I take Probioitcs EVERY day. I want to help you discover the benefits of them too. Enjoy my humble site.

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