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New Weapons in the War On Acne and Rosacea?

February 3, 2014

Dermatologists see benefits in the use of probiotics

Eat your yogurt! That's the advice from dermatologists who have studied the link between probiotics and acne and rosacea. According to Whitney P. Bowe, MD, FAAD, oral probiotics, sold as daily supplements containing Lactobacilli and/or Bifidobacterium or in yogurts containing live cultures, could influence skin conditions such as acne and rosacea by affecting what is known as the “gut-brain-skin axis.” With this theory, stress alone or in combination with processed comfort foods that lack fiber can slow digestion. This in turn changes the type and number of bacteria that live in the gut to unhealthy bacteria. Eventually the gut lining becomes leaky and toxins are released into the bloodstream causing inflammation throughout the body. People who are predisposed to acne or rosacea can experience flares as a result of this shift in gut bacteria and subsequent inflammation, according to Bowe.


To counteract flares of acne or rosacea associated with the “gut-brain-skin axis,” Bowe advises patients to find ways to help manage or cope with stress, fix their diet or introduce healthy bacteria to the gut in the form of probiotics. The probiotics will line the gut and create a healthy, sealed barrier that prevents inflammation that can trigger acne or rosacea.


Bowe is a board-certified dermatologist and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York, and adjunct assistant clinical professor of dermatology at State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate College of Medicine in Brooklyn.


“While more studies are needed to identify the most beneficial aspects of probiotics and determine whether topical or oral probotics yield the best results, I think we can expect to see some cutting-edge probiotic products for acne and rosacea in the near future,” said Bowe. “Until then, I would recommend that patients with acne or rosacea see their dermatologist to talk about adding foods with live active cultures, such as yogurt, to their diets or taking an oral probiotic supplement daily. Although I don’t envision probiotics ever being used as a stand-alone treatment for acne or rosacea, they could be used as an effective combination therapy with prescription medications or over-the-counter topical treatments.”

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