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SIBO and Acne: How Gut Bacteria Dictate Skin Conditions
Acne is a serious pain…in the gut. The reflection we see in the mirror is a reflection of what’s going on in our microbiome. Recently, scientists have begun to uncover the truth behind acne, and it’s more in-depth than just using the right facial cleanser. Research suggests there is a correlation between SIBO and acne 1.What is this gastro disease, and how does it affect your skin? Let’s take a close look at the SIBO and acne connection and how to prevent other skin conditions through the gut-skin-axis.
The Problem with Acne and Skincare
Many cosmetic companies use ethanol as an astringent to kill the bacteria that are causing acne.
This process was all the rage in the 90s when Stridex pads were a thing. However, many teens with sensitive skin noticed very quickly that these products would dry out their skin.
We now know that excessive use of these products can cause more harm to the skin than good, including drying the skin out.
One analysis stated,
“Topically applied ethanol acts as a skin penetration enhancer and may facilitate the transdermal absorption of xenobiotics (e.g. carcinogenic contaminants in cosmetic formulations). Ethanol use is associated with skin irritation or contact dermatitis, especially in humans with an aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) deficiency 2.”– J Occup Med Toxicol
The truth about what causes acne lies in our gut. One specific gut condition, in particular, has been linked to the development of acne.Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO for short, has been associated with the condition acne vulgaris in recent years. This finding is revolutionizing the way we view and even treat skin conditions.
What Is SIBO?
SIBO is essentially the overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine that should be lower down in the large intestine 3. That means toxins aren’t leaving the system. Instead, they’re coming back in…and then some.
Symptoms from SIBO can range from mild to severe. In more extreme cases, SIBO can lead to malabsorption. Most commonly, people experience an array of debilitating gastrointestinal symptoms.
Common GI problems associated with SIBO include:
There are many factors at play when it comes to developing SIBO. For the most part, this isn’t an overnight occurrence.
Some of the most common causes of SIBO include:
- Decreased Stomach Acid
- Low Intestinal Motility
- Decreased Immune System Function
- Structural Abnormalities in the Gut
- Round of Antibiotics
SIBO and Acne
Malabsorption of Food and Skincare
Research indicates that this malabsorption has been linked to the development of acne.
“Zinc, folic acid, selenium, chromium and omega-3 fatty acids are all examples of nutrients which have been shown to influence depression, anger and/or anxiety. These same nutrients, along with systemic oxidative stress and an altered intestinal microflora have been implicated in acne vulgaris 5.”
– Med Hypotheses.
So, missing out on crucial nutrients influences not only the gut-skin relationship but also the gut-brain-axis. These findings only lend more credence to the importance of maintaining your gut health.
Malabsorption and Inflammation
As we discussed, one of the many symptoms of inflammation is skin issues.
SIBO and Toxins
Leaky gut perpetuates systemic inflammation, ultimately contributing to acne.
An analysis looking at the gut biome and acne noted,
“Disruption in the intestinal barrier contributes to this feedback loop by allowing the penetration of poorly digested food, microbes, and toxins into the circulation to reach target tissue, including the skin, where they trigger Th2 immune responses resulting in further tissue damage 6.”
– Front Microbiol.
As several studies keep pointing out, SIBO triggers inflammation, which results in leaky gut and acne. Therefore, the SIBO and acne relationship seems like a never-ending cycle. That is, unless you fight fire with fire.
SIBO, Acne, and Probiotics
Probiotics and Inflammation
“Several strains of Lactobacillus also demonstrate anti-inflammatory properties. The addition of Lactobacillus paracasei NCC2461 has been shown to inhibit neutrogenic inflammation in a skin model, and the addition of L. paracasei NCC2461 to lymphocyte culture has been shown to strongly inhibit the proliferative activity of CD-4 + T-cells in a dose-dependent manner and to induce the anti-inflammatory cytokines IL-10 and TGF-beta 8.”
– Int J Womens Dermatol.
Furthermore, probiotics have been shown to decrease inflammation and oxidative stress 9. As we discussed earlier, these innate responses are two main contributors to acne. All of these factors suggest that probiotics supplements may be an effective way to support your skincare routine.
Prebiotics and Acne
At Ombre, we offer a strain-specific probiotic supplements that target your symptoms. By taking the guess work out of your probiotics, we can help you achieve your health goals quickly and effectively. Acne is a pain. Luckily, there are tools to help.
- 1 Bowe, W. P., & Logan, A. C. (2011). Acne vulgaris, probiotics and the gut-brain-skin axis – back to the future?. Gut pathogens, 3(1), 1. doi:10.1186/1757-4749-3-1.
- 2 Lachenmeier D. W. (2008). Safety evaluation of topical applications of ethanol on the skin and inside the oral cavity. Journal of occupational medicine and toxicology (London, England), 3, 26. doi:10.1186/1745-6673-3-26.
- 3 Dukowicz, A. C., Lacy, B. E., & Levine, G. M. (2007). Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth: a comprehensive review. Gastroenterology & hepatology, 3(2), 112–122.
- 4 Reddymasu, Savio C, et al. “Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Are There Any Predictors?” BMC Gastroenterology, BioMed Central, 22 Feb. 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20175924.
- 5 Katzman, Martin, and Alan C Logan. “Acne Vulgaris: Nutritional Factors May Be Influencing Psychological Sequelae.” Medical Hypotheses, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2007, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17448607.
- 6 Salem, I., Ramser, A., Isham, N., & Ghannoum, M. A. (2018). The Gut Microbiome as a Major Regulator of the Gut-Skin Axis. Frontiers in microbiology, 9, 1459. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2018.01459.
- 7 Ereaux L. P. (1938). FACTS, FADS AND FANCIES IN THE TREATMENT OF ACNE VULGARIS. Canadian Medical Association journal, 39(3), 257–261.
- 8 Kober, M. M., & Bowe, W. P. (2015). The effect of probiotics on immune regulation, acne, and photoaging. International journal of women’s dermatology, 1(2), 85–89. doi:10.1016/j.ijwd.2015.02.001.
- 9 Mikelsaar, Marika, and Mihkel Zimer. “Lactobacillus Fermentum ME-3 – an Antimicrobial and Antioxidative Probiotic.” Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease Volume 21, 2009 – Issue 1, 14 Oct. 2008, www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/08910600902815561.
- 10 Schiffrin, E J, et al. “Systemic Inflammatory Markers in Older Persons: the Effect of Oral Nutritional Supplementation with Prebiotics.” The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2007, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17985062.