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Benefits of Taking Probiotics for Acne

Probiotics are a popular product for your gut and general health, but recent research shows that they can also help your skin and prevent acne.

Antibiotic resistance has decreased antibiotics’ effectiveness in treating acne. Plus, defeating acne isn’t about killing off bacteria but instead about properly balancing your skin’s microbiome- which probiotics are great at. Adding probiotics to your diet can help treat acne because:

  • Probiotics help you maintain homeostasis in the gut and skin (AKA, probiotics help you keep a proper balance between the microorganisms that live on and in you)

  • Probiotic supplements have also been proven to have a regulatory effect on P. Acnes, the bacteria that causes acne when it grows out of control

  • Probiotics also can regulate your immune system (essentially, they prevent your immune system from overreacting to a blocked pore with inflamed, noticeable pimples)

The many reasons that probiotic supplements clear away your acne are varied and fascinating. Let’s take a closer look.

Pills on a counter
Probiotics are live bacteria that help restore a healthy balance and protect the immune system, which is excellent news for your skin.

It’s All About Balance

You may have heard of dermatologists using antibiotics to treat acne. It’s a common prescription, but our stance is that antibiotics for acne are not worth the risk. That is for a few reasons.

Antimicrobial Resistance

Overuse or misuse of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance, and the idea that you would not be able to treat any bacterial infection because at one point, you were prescribed antibiotics for acne is, well, frightening. Antibiotics might be appropriate for the most severe cases of acne, but they tend to be over-prescribed.
Check out our article on dermatologists for more information about whether or not your acne truly needs oral medication or if it can be treated topically.

Bacteria Overgrowth is Your Issue- Not Bacteria in General

You are home to an entire complex universe of bacteria and microorganisms all the time. In fact, your whole body, especially areas like your skin and gut, is dependent upon this microbiome to keep you healthy. 

Your immune system, for example, takes many cues from the bacteria that live in and on your body. In fact, an uptick in auto-immune and inflammatory diseases in high-income areas that tend to overuse antibiotics is often attributed to a disruption in the healthy relationship between the human body and the microbiota. (We’ll talk more about the immune system and acne in a moment.)

You may already know that bacteria causes acne. That is true- but it’s not the whole picture. 

Acne infographic
Bacterial overgrowth, too much oil and dead skin, and inflammation are all the main causes of acne. Probiotics help prevent some of these processes.

Often, people misunderstand bacteria’s role in acne and falsely believe that acne comes about from uncleanliness, such as not washing your face enough. That false belief leads many people to mistreat their skin by over-washing it with harsh solutions or seeking out antibiotics, actions that can both significantly worsen your skin condition.

Here’s the full story: one type of bacteria causes acne, and its name is P. acnes. But P. acnes itself is always on the skin and is even necessary for the skin in small amounts. P. acnes only becomes a problem when it overgrows

P. acnes feeds on the oil on your skin. So if your skin is particularly oily, that’s a lot of food for P. acnes to eat, meaning it gets the chance to overgrow and cause acne. But when P. acnes is in regulated amounts, it helps your skin remain hydrated and healthy.

So if you start taking antibiotics, you’re not gently coaxing your skin back to a reasonable balance. You’re instead killing all bacteria, potentially causing new issues and exacerbating the preexisting ones. 

Woman examining skin in the mirror.

How Probiotics Help Acne

Probiotics Have a Regulatory Effect on P. Acnes

Recent scientific research has shown that introducing a probiotic supplement to your diet can help you regulate the amount of P. Acnes bacteria on your skin. The key word here is “regulate;” note we didn’t say “eliminate.” 

As we mentioned above, P. acnes is a necessary bacteria, we just need to keep it balanced. By adding healthy bacteria to your gut and skin by introducing a probiotic, you can balance out the bacteria on your skin and make sure that no single microorganism overgrows. 

By keeping P. acnes in check without killing it off too much, your skin can remain hydrated, healthy, and acne-free.

Probiotics also Regulate Your Immune Response

When the P. acnes overgrowth gets trapped along with oil inside a pore, the bacteria creates a fatty acid waste that irritates the inner lining of the pore, causing inflammation and redness. This sets off alarm bells for your immune system, which sends white blood cells to help fight off the irritation, but because the pore is blocked, those cells get stuck inside the pore and build up into the white pus that you recognize inside pimples

While your body triggers this immune response to help you, it can seem like an overreaction on your immune system’s part when it causes your acne to look discolored, inflamed, and swollen. 

But probiotics help regulate your immune system, helping it fight off pathogens when need be, but not overreacting to clogged pores so much as to give you excessive acne breakouts. 

Strengthen the Skin’s Moisture Barrier

Some probiotics are known to boost the amount of ceramides, or lipids, that the skin produces.

Ceramides are fats that trap moisture in the skin. Their ability to strengthen and protect the skin barrier help keeps acne-causing bacteria in check.

Damage to the skin barrier caused by harsh products, over-exfoliation, sun damage, etc. can all make it difficult for the skin to maintain homeostasis.

By supporting the skin from within and providing it with the tools it needs to rebuild itself, probiotics help keep your skin healthy, soft, and strong. 

More ceramides on the skin also have the added benefit of anti-aging effects.

A woman smiles in a red hat

How to Use Probiotics for Acne

Research suggests that the best way to use probiotics to truly battle acne inside and out is to opt for an oral probiotic supplement.

Preventing inflammation, strengthening your body’s ability to fight pathogens, and lessening the risk of losing out on important nutrients is a great way to support a pre-existing acne-fighting skincare routine.

Help your skin heal and prevent things that may trigger future breakouts with probiotics, but remember that they work best in combination with products that tackle treating acne that already exists.

Exposed Probiotic Complex
Oral probiotics, including the Exposed Probiotic Complex, can support good skin health right from its roots.

The Exposed Probiotic Complex is a great option that features all of the powerful probiotics, vitamins, and minerals you need to support a strong immune system and improve the look and health of your skin.

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