Probiotics for Acne: How Our Gut Affects Our Skin

Do probiotics for acne really work? Long story short – yes, they can. Today we are looking at how probiotics can work to reduce acne and improve skin health.

According to recent findings, acne affects up to 50 million individuals in the United States alone. And it’s not just teenagers that suffer from the skin condition, adults can also develop acne with a variety of causes.

Causes of acne

There are several causes of acne, here are some of the most common:

  • Hormones
  • Genetics
  • Medications and Cosmetics
  • Smoking
  • Gut health


Links between gut health and skin health

The gut-brain-skin axis is the intimate connection that allows probiotics to have an impact on skin health.

Although there is no scientific evidence of specific foods that cause acne, our diet does influence our gut health. Then our gut affects our skin.

As our skin renews, the new cells are built using the nutrients we eat. So, it’s true – we literally are what we eat.

However, it’s not always about diet. Sometimes our gut health can be affected by antibiotics, stress, and medications. Our skin is extremely receptive to what happens in the rest of our body because it’s connected to the central nervous system, the autonomic nervous system and the peripheral sensory nervous system.

Probiotics can help with acne because they rebalance the healthy bacteria in the gut and reduce inflammation. When the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut is altered, the skin is one of the first places to see the effects.

Furthermore, probiotics can help us absorb more nutrients from food, so our skin receives more vitamins and minerals.

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are live microorganisms that help to increase the population of good bacteria in your gut. The most common types of probiotics are lactobacillus and bifidobacteria. These are non-spore-forming bacteria that are often added to probiotic supplements and cold foods.

Then there are the spore-forming group of probiotics such as Bacillus subtilis. These are a particularly sturdy group of bacteria found in our gut and on our skin. Due to their spore-forming ability, Bacillus subtilis can survive acidic conditions of the GI tract and protect themselves through varying temperatures.

Probiotics can also be found in fermented foods such as kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, unsweetened yogurt, miso, and some types of pickles.


Are there specific probiotics for acne, or will any of them work?

Not all probiotics are made the same and some work better than others for acne. For example, not everyone enjoys fermented foods, and others may have an intolerance to dairy products that make acne flare-ups worse. In those cases, probiotic foods may not be suitable. If you choose supplements, here are some important points to keep in mind when choosing the right probiotics for you:

  1. A higher colony-forming unit (CFU) doesn’t necessarily mean more effective. What’s important is choosing a broad-spectrum probiotic that works with your body naturally.
  2. Not all probiotics can survive passing through the acidity of the GI tract. If you want to improve skin health, choose a probiotic with Bacillus subtilis to ensure its sturdy enough to make a difference.
  3. Many non-spore forming probiotics need to be refrigerated, otherwise they lose their benefits. Be sure to check this, especially if you plan to order probiotics online. Probiotics that don’t need to be refrigerated tend to be easier to transport and store.


Side-effects of probiotics

Probiotics are unlikely to cause any unwanted side effects since the bacteria are already found in your body. Occasionally they may cause mild stomach-upset the first few days of taking it as the body adjusts.

Always consult with your physician before starting a new probiotic supplement.



Probiotics for acne can be an effective way to improve gut health and skin health, without using harsh chemicals. It’s a natural way to rebalance your microbiome to benefit not just the skin, but your entire body.

Keep in mind that probiotics work best when you stay hydrated with plenty of water, alongside a healthy diet.

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