You may have heard about the benefits that probiotics provide for your digestion processes, but probiotics for skin benefits? You see, these “healthy” bacteria are plentiful in your gut, where they help combat unhealthy bacteria that can digestive problems if left unchecked.
But were you aware that probiotics can help you look better on the outside as well?
After all, probiotics or good bacteria are located throughout your body, including the largest organ: your skin. And every year, researchers are discovering more and more correlations between probiotics and healthy skin. Although scientists haven’t found a direct link between probiotics and, say, increased production of collagen (a protein highly associated with taut, uplifted, youthful skin), numerous studies have documented the existence of healthy skin after probiotics have been ingested, applied topically or otherwise introduced to the human body. Here is some of the most compelling research to take probiotics for skin:
Probably the most effective use of probiotics when it comes to the skin is the prevention and treatment of acne. For example, a study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology revealed that a substance produced by the probiotic strain Streptococcus salivarius inhibited the growth of the bacteria that causes acne.1Another study that was published two-and-a-half years later in a South Korean medical journal demonstrated a sharp reduction in acne-caused inflammatory lesions after an eight-week regimen of a topical probiotic lotion. 2
Lessening Eczema Outbreaks
Probiotics have also proven to be useful in the treatment of eczema (also called atopic dermatitis), which is characterized by rashes and/or substantial inflammation of skin areas. This condition is heavily influenced by genetics. However, a key study published in 2012 in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology reported that when pregnant mothers who had eczema allergies took probiotic supplements, and their babies were given the same supplements during their first 24 months of life, the susceptibility of the infants to eczema outbreaks was drastically reduced. 3
Aiding in Rosacea and Psoriasis
Because of probiotics’ success in fighting acne and eczema, physicians are hopeful that it might provide similar benefits for people suffering from similar skin conditions like psoriasis and rosacea. One case cited in a 2012 issue of the journal Our Dermatology Online showcased how a probiotic strain known as Lactobacillus Sporogenes provided substantial relief to a 15-year sufferer of psoriasis who presented with pustules all over her back and legs. 4
And because research has shown rosacea to be strongly correlated with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), microbiologists are hopeful that probiotic strains can be found which target SIBO and thus provide relief to people suffering from this condition. 5
Battling Dry, Sensitive, Reactive Skin
Not only might probiotics hold the key to alleviating the symptoms of skin diseases, but they’ve also shown promise in combating the underlying conditions that could lead to these ailments. For example, a study which appeared in a 2010 edition of Experimental Dermatology demonstrated how the lysate form of Bifidobacterium longum significantly improved dry skin in women who used the probiotic cream for two months.6 Another study published in 2008 produced similar results for women who used a cream containing the probiotic Streptococcus thermophiles for two weeks. 7
Repairing UV Ray Damage
One of the most common skin problems that probiotics seem to address is UV-damaged skin. Of course, we all know by now that not wearing sunscreen leaves us vulnerable to the sun’s harmful rays which destroys collagen and creates wrinkles. But an article in the International Journal of Women’s Dermatology highlighted a pair of studies which concluded that certain strains of the probiotic Lactobacillus johnsonii that were administered orally to volunteers helped their skin recover from damage sustained by exposure to UV rays. 8
Helping You Look Younger
In addition, researchers are optimistic that probiotics will one day be recommended for reducing wrinkles and other skin-visible signs of aging. For instance, scientists already know that as we age, the pH level of our skin rises to the point where it becomes more susceptible to dryness and pathogenic bacteria.9 But probiotics have found to metabolize substances which help lower the skin pH level, such as Lactobacilli producing organic acids when fermented.10
Bolstering the Skin Barrier
Finally, it appears that probiotics can boost the pathogen-fighting properties of the skin barrier much like they bolster the human immune system when colonizing the gut. Scientists have theorized for decades that the makeup of bacteria in a given location in the body – which is known as a microbiome – can impact the strength of the immune responses in that area.
Perhaps the next frontier in the study of probiotics might involve solidifying and defining this relationship between the gut and skin microbiomes and then determining which probiotic strains display the most efficacy in boosting our internal and external immune systems. 11
There are a number of topical probiotic creams on the market which may provide some relief from skin-related discomfort or disease. Alternatively, including an oral probiotic supplement in your daily regimen or integrating more probiotic-rich foods into your diet may also help keep your skin healthier and more moisturized. So, if you are annoyed with constant skin itchiness, pain, or dryness, you may experiment with a probiotic supplement in addition to any medications you obtain over the counter or with a physician’s prescription.
Probiotic Skin Cream Recipe
Want to try a DIY probiotic skin remedy? We’ve got you covered! This probiotic skin cream recipe functions as a mask that can give your skin a healthy dose of probiotic goodness.
Here’s a little summary of how this mask can do some favors for your skin:
Yogurt: Yogurt is rich in probiotics and also contains lactic acid — an exfoliating alpha-hydroxy acid that can leave you with smoother skin.12,13
Turmeric: This brilliant yellow spice has properties that calm the skin and bring down irritation.14
Honey: Honey can hydrate the skin and improve the appearance of wrinkles.15
Oats: When combined with a liquid (like yogurt) oats can deeply cleanse the skin and provide protective benefits.16
Essential oils: Thyme, basil, and oregano essential oils contain antioxidants which work to keep skin looking youthful.17,18
- 2 tablespoons plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 1-2 teaspoons honey
- 1 teaspoon oats
- 5 drops thyme, basil, or oregano essential oil
Combine ingredients and mix well. Apply this probiotic skin cream to a clean, freshly-washed face. Let your skin absorb the nutrients in the mask for 15-20 minutes. Rinse off with a face wash and follow up with your regular skincare routine.
Article updated: March 29, 2018
Want more age-defying dietary tips? Keep on reading here:
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2.Kang BS, et al. “Antimicrobial Activity Of Enterocins From Enterococcus Faecalis SL-5 Against Propionibacterium Acnes, The Causative Agent In Acne Vulgaris, And Its… – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2017. Web. 19 June 2017.
3.Rautava, Samuli et al. “Maternal Probiotic Supplementation During Pregnancy And Breast-Feeding Reduces The Risk Of Eczema In The Infant”. N.p., 2017. Print.
4.Vijayashankar, M. “PUSTULAR PSORIASIS RESPONDING TO PROBIOTICS – A NEW INSIGHT”. N.p., 2012. Web. 19 June 2017.
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7.Di Marzio L, et al. “Increase Of Skin-Ceramide Levels In Aged Subjects Following A Short-Term Topical Application Of Bacterial Sphingomyelinase From Streptococcus Therm… – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2017. Web. 19 June 2017.
8. “The Effect Of Probiotics On Immune Regulation, Acne, And Photoaging – Sciencedirect”. N.p., 2017. Web. 19 June 2017.
9. “The Effect Of Probiotics On Immune Regulation, Acne, And Photoaging – Sciencedirect”. N.p., 2017. Web. 19 June 2017.
10. (“Production Of Free Fatty Acids And Conjugated Linoleic Acid In Probiotic Dahi Containing Lactobacillus Acidophilus And Lactobacillus Casei During Fermentation And Storage – Sciencedirect”)
11. Bowe, Whitney P, and Alan C Logan. “Acne Vulgaris, Probiotics And The Gut-Brain-Skin Axis – Back To The Future?”. N.p., 2017. Print.
12.Parvez, S., Malik, K. A., Ah, S., & Kim, H. Y. (2006). Probiotics & their fermented food products are beneficial for health. Retrieved March 29, 2018
13.Smith, W. P. (1996, September). Epidermal and dermal effects of topical lactic acid. Retrieved March 29, 2018
14.Vaughn, A. R., Branum, A., & Sivamani, R. K. (2016, August). Effects of Turmeric (Curcuma longa) on Skin Health: A Systematic Review of the Clinical Evidence. Retrieved March 29, 2018
15.Burlando, B., & Cornara, L. (2013, December). Honey in dermatology and skin care: A review. Retrieved March 29, 2018
16.Kurtz, E. S., & Wallo, W. (2007, February). Colloidal oatmeal: History, chemistry and clinical properties. Retrieved March 29, 2018
17.Binic, I., Lazarevic, V., Ljubenovic, M., Mojsa, J., & Sokolovic, D. (2013). Retrieved March 29, 2018
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