Acne is estimated to affect 89.4 per cent of the global population, making it the eighth most prevalent disorder worldwide. In this condition, sebum is blocked by excess skin cells lining the inside of the hair follicle, which then allows bacteria to grow. Although there is no known cause for acne, it is likely the development of the condition occurs due to a complex interaction between hormones, bacteria and inflammation. An excess of certain hormones, such as testosterone, can stimulate the over production of skin cells and increase sebum production leading to acne lesions. High levels of insulin have also been linked to increased acne.
Interestingly, in certain populations such as Okinawans in Japan, acne does not appear to exist; this has led to many suggesting that environmental factors, such as diet have a large impact on acne, explains Claire Barnes, nutritional therapist at Bio-Kult.
She said: “A study earlier this year examining the bacterial diversity of the stools from 43 acne patients compared to 43 controls found distinct differences in microbial diversity.
“They concluded that those suffering with acne have an imbalance of gut microbes.
Although, it is still not well understood, the gut microbiome appears to influence the skin microbiome also. Bacteria in the gut ferment fibres that our bodies cannot digest into extra nutrition sources for us such as B vitamins, vitamin K and short chain fatty acids.
“These short chain fatty acids are believed to have a role in determining the predominance of the skin microbiome.”
Probiotics (live bacteria supplements)
Some experts link the gut brain axis with acne, says Claire, suggesting that individuals who are experiencing psychological distress (such as stress or depression) alone or alongside eating processed foods (with little fibre) cause alterations to the gut microbiome leading to leaky gut (damage to the intestinal lining).
This then allows endotoxins (produced by the bacteria) to cross over into the bloodstream, increasing inflammation, excess sebum production and worsening acne, whilst at the same time increasing psychological distress; and so the cycle continues.
So altering the gut microbiome with live bacteria supplements (probiotics) could potentially help to cut off this cycle within the digestive tract. potentially help to cut off this cycle within the digestive tract.
Claire added: “A 12 week study using a Lactobacillus-fermented dairy drink in 56 patients with acne significantly improved clinical aspects of the condition, such as reduced sebum production and a reduction in total lesion count.
“Live bacteria supplements which help to rebalance the microbiome could also potentially play a role in improving the recovery of a disturbed skin barrier and decrease the signs of skin inflammation.”
Further to their role within the digestive tract, the gut microbiome could have beneficial effects with mood itself.
Claire advised: “The gut-brain axis is now well established; however the role of the gut microbiome is a relatively new component of this axis.
“Modulating the gut microbiome with live bacteria supplements has shown improvement to mood in anxiety and depression.
“Given that acne appears to be a complex multifactorial condition, a multi-strain live bacteria supplement, such as Bio-Kult Advanced, which contains 14 different strains of live bacteria, could potentially be of more benefit in acne than using a supplement containing only one or two strains.”
Supplements are recommended by experts to aid a variety of different health conditions.