Acne and gut health are intimately connected. In this article, we will review the best probiotic for acne and explain how using a probiotic can help treat the root causes of this condition.
Most Common Causes of Acne
You may have been told that your acne is caused by bacteria or excess oil on the skin. While this is partially true, we take it one step further to investigate the root cause of your acne. Why is your skin producing excess oil causing clogged pores and breakouts?
We see two common conditions that are often at the root cause of acne in women: polycystic ovary syndrome
(PCOS) and gut dysbiosis.
Up to 30 percent of women with PCOS suffer from acne (1
). PCOS is a primary cause of acne as this syndrome causes higher levels of androgens, like testosterone. Higher levels of androgens cause an overproduction of oil in your skin which leads to clogged pores and more acne breakouts. Learn more about our PCOS Acne Diet
Dysbiosis is an imbalance of gut bacteria that may cause or worsen acne. With dysbiosis, you may have too many bad bacteria, not enough good bacteria, or a mixture of the two. Common symptoms of dysbiosis include gas, bloating, diarrhea/constipation, and heartburn. However, we commonly see individuals with dysbiosis reporting non-digestive symptoms, like acne or eczema, as well. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is a type of dysbiosis in which too many bacteria end up in the small intestine instead of the colon. This condition is associated with acne and one study found that SIBO is ten times more prevalent in people with acne versus healthy controls (2
). Read more about SIBO and acne
Another gut-related condition that may cause acne is an infection called H. pylori
). This bacteria is actually very common and estimated to affect nearly 40 percent of people (4
). In many individuals, H. pylori
exists without causing any symptoms. On the other hand, we find many people with acne have H. pylori
. This infection seems to affect acne severity as well, with one study finding higher levels of H. pylori
in patients with severe acne versus people with mild to moderate acne or healthy controls (5
). Treating H. pylori
can be difficult, and our functional medicine doctors work with clients to help identify the bacteria (through stool testing) and eradicate this tricky infection.
Best Probiotic for Acne
Soil-based probiotics are bacteria found in the soil that are encapsulated in a hard shell, or spore. Unlike traditional probiotics, spore-based probiotics
survive the harsh and acidic conditions of the digestive tract. This allows them to provide benefits as they travel through the intestines and colon. These spore-based probiotics may help reduce acne by treating some of the root causes. For example, soil-based probiotics can reduce dysbiosis and leaky gut (6
). In our clinical experience, dysbiosis—SIBO in particular—is one of the most common causes of acne. Using a soil-based probiotic as part of our treatment program allows us to both remove excess bad gut bacteria while simultaneously promoting the growth of good bacteria. Plus, soil-based probiotics may reduce levels of inflammatory markers which is particularly helpful for women with PCOS and acne who tend to have higher levels of inflammation (7
Our favorite probiotic for acne is a soil-based probiotic called MegaSporeBiotic
because it is backed by research studies and contains five different strains of spore-based bacteria. We have seen this probiotic work wonders in individuals with acne when combined with the right treatment program.
Depending on the patient, we may also recommend a probiotic containing a beneficial yeast called S. boulardii.
This yeast is helpful for eliminating H. pylori
infections that cause acne and even certain parasites (8
). Lastly, we may use a combination probiotic that contains S. boulardii along with other important bacterial strains to support your immune system and a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut.
In our clinical experience, the best probiotic for acne is MegaSporeBiotic. We may also use other strains or yeasts, like S. boulardii depending on the individual. However, keep in mind that acne is a multifactorial condition that requires more than supplementing with a probiotic. Eating an anti-inflammatory acne diet
and following a personalized gut-healing protocol is essential to treating the root cause of this skin condition.