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The Power of Probiotics

With words like L. acidophilus, Lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium popping up more frequently on store shelves, you’re likely familiar with probiotics. Since gaining popularity for their numerous health benefits, probiotics have gone mainstream, appearing in many supplements and foods. And now, these “good” bacteria have made their way into the skin care arena, showing promise as a supplemental treatment for skin conditions like acne and rosacea.

Probiotics are live microorganisms—found in yogurt, certain cheeses and fermented foods like miso and sauerkraut—that help to regulate digestion, improve immunity, and may even contribute to weight loss, according to recent findings. While studies are still preliminary, researchers have also started exploring the effect probiotics have on the skin by analyzing the connection between probiotics and an improvement in acne and rosacea symptoms.

According to information published by the American Academy of Dermatology, a process known as “bacterial interference” may occur when probiotics are applied topically to the skin. This response hinders the proliferation of “bad” bacteria (the kind that cause acne), thus preventing the natural immune response in the body that leads to inflammation and ultimately, acne or rosacea flare-ups. Supplements, too, offer an alternate approach to acne treatment. Studies dating back as far as the 1930s support the theory that stress, poor diet and other factors can contribute to a bacterial imbalance in the gut. These bacteria eventually allow toxins to make their way throughout the body, encouraging the inflammation that leads to acne. Doctors theorize that probiotics may help line the stomach and ultimately disrupt this inflammatory response. While studies are still underway in the US, international studies show that the introduction of probiotics may be promising.

An Italian study showed that acne patients who took an oral probiotic supplement in conjunction with their existing acne and rosacea treatment experienced a greater improvement in symptoms versus those patients who did not take the supplement.

Expect to see more about probiotic modes of treatment for acne and rosacea in the future. In the meantime, ask your physician about smart ways to incorporate probiotics into your diet.