HOW PROBIOTICS HELP THE SKIN
Probiotics were developed to restore a healthy mixture of “good” bacteria to your gut. When your gut has the right mix of the right bacteria it functions better and is less easily irritated. Data now shows that when your gut is healthy, your skin is often healthier as well. This is particularly the case for individuals with sensitive skin that is to prone inflammation such as rosacea or acne.
HOW PROBIOTICS CAN BALANCE YOUR MICROBIOME
When taking a probiotic, you are introducing millions of useful bacteria into your system. The useful bacteria works symbiotically with your body to protect it from the overgrowth of unwanted bacteria and yeast and also provide byproducts that positively affect your body’s functions. The short of this is that a healthy microbiome in your gut helps make you healthier.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING A PROBIOTIC PRODUCT
Most probiotics are made for gut health with skin health being a happy secondary outcome. More recently, as the gut-skin connection has become better recognized, there are now probiotics specially formulated for skin health. My favorite of these is HUM Nutrition’s Skin Heroes. It uses 9 different strains of bacteria shown to support important skin functions and a prebiotic of Konjac root to feed the good bacteria as it gets settled. They also did a small clinical trial that showed a majority of individuals (over 80%) who took it reported a decrease in skin outbreaks including acne and rosacea.
THE DOWNSIDE OF PROBIOTICS
If you have a sensitive gut, taking probiotics can cause diarrhea or loose stools. Furthermore, we don’t know what the long-term effects are of taking high doses of probiotics. When I recommend them to my patients, we discuss this. I typically have patients start with one to two pills a day for a week or until they see improvement in their skin. Then I have them slow down to one pill every other day for another week. Some patients can then stop, others have found taking one pill every other day or even just once a week better maintains their skin. If they notice their skin having more outbreaks (acne, rosacea or sensitivity) then they start the process again. This is significantly lower dosing than what is typically recommended, however, I’ve recommended this to hundreds of my patients with inflamed skin and have seen excellent results for both women and men.