Skin Barrier Function: How This All Plays A Role In Your Skin’s Most Important Responsibility
As an organ, your skin has certain responsibilities: Your heart pumps blood, your lungs take in oxygen, and your skin acts as a barrier. Barrier function is its most vital task, and when that barrier is more permeableor it’s not functioning properlythings go wrong. It’s sometimes referred to as a “leaky” skin barrier , and it can act as an underlying cause of inflammatory skin conditions ranging from acne and eczema to even allergic reactions like hives.
“It protects us from mechanical injury, low humidity, cold, heat, sun, wind, chemical exposure, bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other pathogens,” explains board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, M.D., stating that, “a healthy barrier is critical to normal skin function.”
Supporting your skin barrier isn’t about superficial aestheticsthere are internal repercussions to disregarding the health of your skin and microbiome. In one 2019 study, researchers found a major link between skin dysfunction and various health conditions caused by chronic inflammation. In the study, researchers connected the use of barrier repair moisturizers with reduced pro-inflammatory cytokines in the blood, highlighting the importance of the skin’s protective role in our overall health: Namely, that poor barrier function is linked to inflammation that can trigger internal health conditions.
Probiotic Skin Care Is A Lie
If you’re reading this, I owe you an apology. About six years ago, there was a sudden rise in the number of products that claimed to optimize the skin’s microbiome, the collection of microorganisms living on its surface. The formulas contained probiotics, or live microorganisms derived from fermented foods or dirt, for example.
But no matter the source, the storyline was the same: These probiotics were said to rebalance your skin’s microbiome by adding “good” bacteria that then could edge out the alleged “bad” bacteria and, in turn, among other things, reduce inflammation thus bestowing you with happier, healthier skin.
Parts of that story hold true, but if you string them together with a daisy chain of Boolean logic , probiotic-laced skin care ends up wearing a halo of scientific truth. But like all halos, it’s not real. That’s the mistake I made when reporting on this phenomena in the mid-teens.
Using Probiotics And Prebiotics To Treat Skin Conditions
The combined usage of probiotic and prebiotic solutions has been shown to treat certain skin conditions by positively impacting the skin microbiome and the microorganisms that live within that ecosystem17.
Both skincare solutions and foods that contain probiotics and prebiotics can be used to relieve variety of skin conditions, including:
Acne Studies have shown that topical solutions which contain the probiotic lactobacillus plantarum can help reduce acne lesions and repair the skin barriers of these suffering from acne18.
Eczema Scientific reviews have suggested that probiotic supplements, taken by mouth, can reduce the severity of those suffering from mild to severe eczema19.
Psoriasis Recent research has illustrated that certain strains of the probiotic lactobacillus can help reduce skin inflammation, showing promising signs that probiotics can control the effects of psoriasis20.
Iris says: Probiotics are beneficial for treating other skin issues, such as hypersensitivity, wound protection and repairing skin that has been damaged by the suns UV rays.21
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Five Tips For Healthy Skin And A Healthy Gut
Probiotics For Acne & Skin Health
Gut health and skin health have been linked as far back as the early 20th century1. This article will look at the current understanding behind this link, especially the link between gut health and acne, and the role probiotics can play in this relationship.
Teenagers are not the only age group affected by pesky, painful spots and breakouts – acne is a common complaint amongst adults too. In this article we answer your questions about the link between gut health and skin health, and how probiotics might help:
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What The Aad Recommends When Using Probiotics For Acne
The American Academy of Dermatology currently recommends that patients interested in using probiotics to treat acne breakouts should talk with their doctor about adding foods known to contain healthy friendly probiotics and taking an oral probiotic supplement.
Foods that are known to contain healthy microorganisms include yogurt, kefir, certain fermented foods like kimchi, kombucha beverages, tempeh, pickled foods and sauerkraut, among others. When adding probiotics in the form of foods, be sure to look at the label to verify that the food contains live and active cultures.
There are many different probiotics supplements that may be helpful in healing your skin from acne. You should definitely make sure that any supplement you select contains both Lactobacillus Acidophilus and Lactobacillus Bifidobacterium .
Talk with your dermatologist as well about choosing a topical probiotic to help your skin protect itself from harmful microorganisms at the surface level.
Strengthen The Skin Barrier
Probiotics have been shown to reduce the threat of infection and reinforce the skins natural defenses against bad bacteria, pollution and free radical damage. By producing antimicrobials and compounds that reduce the skins pH, probiotics also protect your skin from transient pathogens that could disrupt normal skin function, says Dr. Prystowsky.
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Traditional Treatment For Acne
In addition to being attributed to different issues, acne and related skin conditions can appear in different parts of the body. After all, the skin is a barrier that covers the entire body, and it is possible for acne symptoms to surface in most places. The most common, however, are:
Regardless of where the symptoms appear or which type of acne occurs, the majority of treatment choices focus on the idea of correcting the chemical imbalances by reducing the bad bacteria and/or increasing the good bacteria while also preventing the combination of excess sebum and dead skin cells.
Given the impact of acne, its important to manage each case on its individual merits, which is why a dermatologist or skin health expert will almost certainly be needed. Depending on the type and severity of acne, a variety of procedures and treatments may be prescribed, including but not limited too:
- Over-the-counter medications for minor cases of acne,
- Lasers and light therapies that are designed to reduce P. acnes bacteria levels,
- Chemical peels that are used to treat blackheads and papules,
- Medicine injections into cysts and other major acne features,
- Drainage and extraction procedures that removes cysts that have rejected medicines.
In most cases, a professional diagnosis from a dermatologist will provide the first key step en route to a successful cure. However, the use of probiotics has become an increasingly common choice for sufferers of many skin conditions.
Why Probiotic Skin Care Is Worth The Hype According To Experts
The human body is home to trillions of microorganisms, outnumbering even the human cells. And a host of these diverse bacteria ecosystems reside on your skin. Research shows that some of these microbes actually promote skin health. They reinforce your skin’s natural barrier against bad bacteria, balance your skin’s pH levels and may even protect against skin cancer.
But constant use of harsh facial cleansers and antibacterial soaps strip your skin of these healthy bacteria or the ‘good bugs’ consequently damaging your skin’s natural bacterial ecosystem. This, in turn, makes your skin stressed and dry, causing skin issues like breakouts, eczema, rosacea flares and psoriasis.
So, what can you do to build back your skin’s natural defenses and healthy function? Enter probiotics.
Here, two skin care experts explain how probiotics work on your skin and why they deserve to be a part of your daily skin care routine.
First things first, what are probiotics?
“Probiotics are microorganisms that are similar to the naturally occurring bacteria in your gut,” says Dr. Rhonda Klein, Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology and Partner at Modern Dermatology, Connecticut.
They facilitate numerous health functions, from serotonin production and digestion to increasing resistance to illness and infection, she explains.
How do probiotics benefit your skin?
And what’s the deal with prebiotics and postbiotics?
Other ways to fortify your skin’s beneficial microflora
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Dermabliss Seasonal Allergy & Immune Supplement
Watching Fido go through seasonal allergies is the worst. Thats why Vetnique created a tasty little solution all wrapped up in a mouthwatering hickory salmon flavor for dogs. With Quercetin and Bromelain to balance out your pets histamine levels, this probiotic for dogs provides an overall immune boost beyond curing itchiness and fleas. A reviewer said it smells good enough for a human to eat and that it helped her dog who suffered from a grass allergy. Useful for any owner of bulldogs, a breed specifically know for easily developing allergies.
Take These Dietary Supplements
- Zinc Zinc has shown to reduce the excretion of histamine, and with that the itching and swelling of the skin. In addition, Zinc is one of the most important substances in the body it is involved in more than 300 metabolic processes, including the ones that lead to healthy skin. Zinc helps rebuild healthy skin cells, which is especially important for people suffering from skin issues.
- Omega 3-Fatty Acids Omega 3-Fatty Acids reinforce the cell membrane. The cell membrane acts as the barrier against harmful substances entering the cell, and its the passageway for nutrients to cross in and waste products to cross out of the cell. In addition, the cell membrane influences the cells ability to hold water. Having a nice, healthy cell barrier helps retain water and makes the skin appear softer and younger. Omega 3-Fatty Acids also help reduce the bodys production of inflammatory compounds, the natural chemicals involved in the aging process.
- Co-Q10 The energy center of our bodys cells is the mitochondria. Co-Q10 provides energy to the mitochondria, therefore supercharging every cell in the body, including the skin cells. Taking Co-Q10 also typically increases energy levels.
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The Skin Microbiome: What It Does & Why Keeping It Healthy Matters
You cannot have a conversation around these topicals without first understanding the many, many ways the microbiome influences the skin.
“As the largest and most visible organ, the skin not only gives clues into what’s happening beneath the surface in terms of immune function, nutrition, oxidative stress, and metabolic issues, to name a few, but it’s the body’s first line of defense against infection, environmental stressors, and loss of nutrients and water, so addressing the skin is a gateway to overall health and well-being,” says board-certified dermatologist Keira Barr, M.D. “The skin microbiome is constantly interacting with our environment and works to support our health by protecting against infection, influencing the immune response, protecting against UV radiation, and helping provide nourishment to the skin cells.”
And what’s even more exciting is that while we know the microbiome does a pretty significant amount of work already, it seems that there’s also much to learn: “Research has just begun to piece together the important role they play in our health, and more exciting research is on the horizon,” physician and naturopathic doctor Kara Fitzgerald, N.D., tells us.
As we wait with bated breath for new developments, here’s what we know from the current research:
Consumable & Topical Probiotics
Topical probiotics, which are applied to the skin directly. They perform a barrier on the skin and can be applied to skin that already shows visual symptoms,
Consumable probiotics that are taken as a food supplement and look to rebalance the bacteria from inside the digestive system.
When opting for probiotics like Jetson , the goal is to replenish the good bacteria that may have been depleted by hormone changes, poor immune system function, and the impact of medicines and antibiotics. Conversely, the topicals are there to block out the bad bacteria before it has a chance to cause escalating damage.
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How To Use For Best Results
When choosing probiotic supplements, naturopathic physician Heather Sandison, N.D., says its always best to get a stool test to determine the right bugs to balance as each person has a unique gut microbiome. The right balance of probiotics in your gut help you to digest and assimilate nutrients so that your hair, skin and nails have the nutrients they need to look and feel healthy, Dr. Sandison adds. For best results, I recommend rotating high-quality, high-dose probiotics both topically and orally.
Consistency is also important, says Kessler, and so is choosing products that have at least two strands of probiotics. She recommends doubling up on the dosage should you experience flare-ups in your digestion or skin.
Our bodies have millions of normal, healthy bacteria. When these bacterial colonies are growing and inhabiting the GI system, skin, mouth and body, they prevent bad bacteria and fungi from taking over. That is the key. We want the good in and the bad out, adds facial plastic surgeon Benjamin Caughlin, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Its time to add some good ol probiotics to your beauty routine. Here are our top picks!
Probiotics For Acne And Skin Health: An Overview:
- Our gut health plays an important role in our skin health.
- The gut microbiome influences our skin health through its effects on our immune health and inflammation.
- Probiotics may positively impact skin health by helping to reduce inflammation, reduce oxidative stress, improve the composition of the gut microbiome, maintain a healthy gut environment, and manage the effects of stress.
- Probiotic strains that may help to address some of the triggers for acne include Bifidobacterium lactis HN019, Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07® and Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM®.
- Further well-designed clinical trials are required to ascertain the best probiotic strains for acne and skin health.
If you enjoyed this article, you may also like to read:
What is the Best Probiotic Supplement for Women? and Probiotics for Your Familys Immunity
Healthcare professionals can visit the Probiotics Database to learn more about Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM ®.
To learn more about how probiotics can help with eczema, health professionals can read this article on the Probiotic Professionals site: Probiotics for Eczema.
To learn more, health professionals can read this article on the Professionals site: Probiotics for constipation.
Read Also: Whats The Best Probiotic Supplement
What Do Probiotics Do For Your Skin
Studies suggest that applying probiotic skin care products may reduce acne outbreaks and manage dry skin and eczema. pH increases with age, making it less acidic and allowing more badbacteria to colonize it. Probiotics are bacteria that live in the intestines of animals and humans. They can be found in yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and other fermented foods.
Probiotics have been shown to be effective in treating a variety of conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease , Crohns disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome , and dermatitis herpetiformis . Probiotic supplements have also been found to have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce inflammation in IBD and IBS patients, as well as reduce the risk of developing colon cancer.
Do Probiotics Make Your Hair Grow
Again, probiotics stimulate hair growth. A study conducted by MIT found an astounding rate of hair growth among subjects who took probiotics, calling it a robust, long- lasting effect.
In fact, a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1, which is found in yogurt and kefir, was able to increase the growth of new hair follicles in mice by up to 50 percent.
The study was conducted on mice that had been genetically engineered to be resistant to the bacteria, and the results were astounding: the mice had twice as much hair as the control group that didnt take the supplement. In addition, the researchers found a significant increase in hair regrowth in both male and female mice, as well as a decrease in baldness in male mice.
Its worth noting that these mice were fed a high-fat diet, so its possible that other factors, such as stress, could be at play, but this is a promising study nonetheless. Probiotics are good for your skin.
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Why Your Skin Needs Probiotics
Probiotics in your gut manufacture key nutrients. They also limit the growth of potentially harmful yeasts and unhealthy bacteria. In doing so, they reduce inflammation, improve hydration, support a healthy immune system, and affect what bacteria live on your skin.
Thanks to The Human Microbiome Project, we now have a greatly expanded understanding of the role probiotics play in human health. Increasing scientific evidence confirms that they benefit skin. A 2014 study published in the scientific journal Beneficial Microbes stated, nutritional products containing prebiotics and/or probiotics have a positive effect on skin by modulating the immune system and by providing therapeutic benefits for atopic diseases.
One of my previous posts on this topic describes, in more detail, how probiotics help with four skin common skin conditions: acne, rosacea, eczema, and aging. They also promote the healing of scars and burns, strengthen the skins immunity, help mitigate damage from UV rays, and help skin hold moisture.