Can probiotics cause acne

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can probiotics cause ance

Acne is a prevalent skin condition that impacts countless women globally. While numerous factors contribute to the development of acne, there have been some arguments that probiotics are one of these factors.

Probiotics have gained their skyrocketed popularity for their health benefits, especially for gut health. They are generally considered safe. So, do they actually have adverse effects on the skin, such as causing acne? 

In this regard, I am here to offer my professional opinion. Before diving into that, some of you may be curious about the connection between gut bacteria, like probiotics, and skin health. Therefore, let us first explore how gut health can affect your skin.

The Gut-Skin Connection

Do you ever wonder how stress and diet can affect your skin? Research has established a significant connection between gut health and skin health. 

An Imbalance in Your Gut Can Cause Acne

Your gut normally houses a harmonious blend of beneficial and harmful bacteria. However, factors like stress, dietary choices, and medications can disrupt this equilibrium. Such imbalances can escalate intestinal inflammation and permeability, allowing harmful substances to enter the bloodstream. Consequently, this triggers an immune response that results in systemic inflammation throughout the body, including the skin.

In one study, gut microflora imbalance is seen in 54% of people with acne and addressing the gut issue contributes to 50% reduction in the duration of acne treatment.

Probiotics And Skin Health

Now, it may not surprise you to learn that by maintaining a healthy microbiome, probiotics may have a great impact on your skin health.

Different clinical studies have indicated that probiotics have great potential in preventing and treating skin issues like eczema, atopic dermatitis, acne, and allergies. Moreover, a recent study also demonstrated the beneficial effects of topical probiotics in the treatment of certain inflammatory skin conditions such as acne.

Can taking probiotics cause your skin to break out and develop acne?

There is no straightforward answer for this question.

Numerous studies have shown that probiotics potentially benefit skin issues like acne, but certain conditions can make it possible to experience skin breakouts during probiotic use.

Reasons Why Probiotics May Cause Acne

The probiotics you are taking might not be the right one for you.

Not all probiotics are of equal efficacy and different probiotics have different properties. Probiotics like Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and Bifidobacterium have shown potential benefits for acne while others haven’t.

Additionally, a low quality probiotic can also be the culprit. Low-quality products could potentially have harmful substances or lack the specified strains and quantities of bacteria mentioned on the packaging. Since probiotics are not regulated by FDA, you can’t always be sure of what you are getting.

You Have SIBO.

SIBO is a condition where bacteria overgrowth occurs in your small intestine.

It can trigger inflammation that isn’t just limited to your gut, but can spread throughout your whole body. Thus, SIBO patients may experience not only GI symptoms but also skin problems like acne, eczema and allergies.

When you have SIBO, you have to be very careful with your probiotic choice since some probiotics can cause bacteria overload and worsen SIBO symptoms. That explains why taking certain probiotics when you have conditions like SIBO may cause flare-ups with your acne. 

Diet and lifestyle triggers are remaining.

Unless you remove your triggers for acne, your skin breakouts are unlikely to get better. So it is still important to examine your diet and lifestyle critically. You need to figure out if your stressful lifestyle or bad dietary choices are

 upsetting your gut flora balance and worsening your skin condition.

You are experiencing a detox reaction.

A “Herx” or “die-off” reaction occurs when loading your microbiome with new probiotic strains kills off pathogenic microbes, and toxic metabolites released from dying organisms trigger various symptoms including skin breakouts. It is usually an indication that your probiotics are working to detox your body and symptoms are usually temporary.

Should I bother with probiotics then?

Probiotics help skin breakouts rather than causing it. But if you experience acne breakouts while using probiotics, the first thing you should do is to figure out what is causing the problem.

Consulting with a dermatologist can evaluate your skin condition and can help you determine the underlying causes of your acne. 

If that’s the problem with your probiotic supplement, then you might need to stop taking it.

Other measures you can take to prevent acne breakouts

Eat a balanced diet: Incorporate foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals into your diet. Avoid excessive consumption of sugary and processed foods, as they can contribute to inflammation and worsen acne.

Stay hydrated: Drink an adequate amount of water daily to keep your skin hydrated and help flush out toxins from your body.

Manage stress: Stress can worsen acne breakouts. Practice stress management techniques like exercise, meditation, and getting enough sleep to help keep your skin healthy.


Probiotics have actually shown potential benefits for skin health by reducing inflammation, and promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria. However, it is important to note that the effects of probiotics can vary from person to person, and what works for one individual may not work for another. Therefore, if you want to take probiotics for your skin issues, it is best to consult with a dermatologist before incorporating them into your routine.

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Dr Tun Min is s GP working in NHS UK and writing articles about supplements and vitamins based on personal clinical experience and clinical research.

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