Probiotics acne treatment a growing trend with dermatologists

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Probiotics can help digestion, but can it also be good for your skin? Some dermatologists are making a good case. (KABC)

Looking in the mirror wasn't always easy for 24-year-old acne patient Danielle Schwarz.

"At its worst, I didn't really want to leave the house," she said.

Schwarz faced the problem with the help of her dermatologist. The treatment plan included traditional acne therapy, plus a daily dose of probiotics.

"I would say now that I rarely have breakouts," Schwarz said.

It's a prescription for healthy skin that a growing number of dermatologists are recommending. Dr. Whitney Bowe is with the American Academy of Dermatology, which named probiotics one of this year's beauty breakthroughs.

"There's accumulating evidence now showing that oral and topical probiotics can actually significantly benefit chronic skin conditions, including things like eczema, acne, rosacea," said Bowe.

Oral probiotics may ease complexion imperfections by affecting what's known as the gut-brain-skin axis. The theory is that diet and stress can slow down digestion, creating an overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria in the gut.

"By introducing healthy bacteria into the gut, it can actually re-seal the gut lining and prevent system wide inflammation that's thought to lead to acne and rosacea flares," said Bowe.

Early research shows some topical probiotics, now found in a slew of skincare products, can protect and soothe the skin. Some even kill germs.

While the data on probiotics is promising, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Amy Derick says more research is needed before probiotics are considered standard practice.

"I'd also like to see research on which exact probiotics are helpful and in what frequency and in what application," said Derick.

Schwarz is a believer, and says the proof isn't just in her reflection.

"Emotionally, it's life changing. I feel much more confident," she said.

Anecdotally, some patients are even finding success with homemade yogurt and kefir masks. Bowe says that while some probiotic treatments have strong evidence behind them, many brands are still sorting out just how to create bacterial harmony, so as always, it's important to seek advice from your dermatologist.


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