Sep 13 2015

Antibiotics team up with Probiotics for Acne

Published by at 12:29 pm under Antibiotics,Personal Care,probiotic supplements

Dermatologists are taking a different approach to treating acne and it involves probiotics.
Think twice before putting your child on antibiotics to treat acne.

To keep with our theme of Back to School, I wanted to look at another health issue that affects so many teenagers, (as well as adults of all ages) and that is acne. It can be a nuisance, embarrassing and result in feelings of poor self esteem and frustration.

Acne occurs when the hair follicles, which are connected to oil glands that secrete the oily substance called sebum, get clogged with excess sebum and dead skin cells. With this build up, a soft plug is created which creates an environment for bacterial growth. As it becomes infected, it becomes inflamed. Puberty is a major time for acne to occur, as the changing hormones can cause an increase in sebum production.1*

Conventional treatments involve a variety of topical treatments that contain retinoids and benzoyl peroxide, combined with topical antibiotics. For more severe cases, oral antibiotics are used. But antibiotics have a wide range of side effects, especially when used for a prolonged amount of time and especially since the ones commonly prescribed, including tetracycline and erythromycin, are broad spectrum antibiotics. Patients can be on them for weeks, even months. Tetracycline has been a favorite for treating skin conditions. Originally derived from a soil based bacteria, it has been prescribed for more than 50 years, but not without adverse side effects. “…Tetracyclines may cause tummy upsets (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea)…” 1,2*

According to Wikipedia, “…broad-spectrum antibiotic refers to an antibiotic that acts against a wide range of disease-causing bacteria. A broad-spectrum antibiotic acts against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, in contrast to a narrow-spectrum antibiotic, which is effective against specific families of bacteria…” 3

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and when you are a teenager with acne, or a parent of a teenager with acne, you will want to try anything to clear up the problem. Unfortunately, being on broad spectrum antibiotics for a prolonged period of time can wreak havoc on the gut, compromise the immune system, and result in yeast infections and digestive troubles as described above, all the result of having a compromised microbiome.

Luckily, there is good news to report. Of late, probiotics are being prescribed alongside antibiotics to counter the negative effects of antibiotics. According to Whitney Bowe, MD, FAAD and board certified dermatologist and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York, “…This pairing can help calm antibiotics’ negative side effects, like yeast infections—but they may also have an unintended benefit for acne sufferers…” “…After they’d finish the antibiotics, my patients would come back and say they were still taking the probiotics, because they were really helping their skin clear up…”4,5*

Poor digestion, which is compounded by stress and anxiety combined with eating a low fiber/high processed food diet (hello school lunches) can be typical of a teenager’s life. The result can be an out of balance gut microflora. When this happens, systemic inflammation is more common, including in the skin. “…By taking oral probiotc supplements or by eating probiotics in your diet, you can theoretically restore a healthy environment in your gut and keep the skin from getting inflamed…”4,5*

“…Dr. Bowe explained that oral probiotics – sold as daily supplements containing Lactobacilli and/or Bifidobacterium or in yogurts containing live cultures – could influence skin conditions such as acne and rosacea by affecting what is known as the “gut-brain-skin axis.” With this theory, stress alone or in combination with processed comfort foods that lack fiber can slow digestion. This in turn changes the type and number of bacteria that live in the gut to unhealthy bacteria. Eventually, the gut lining becomes leaky and toxins are released into the bloodstream causing inflammation throughout the body. People who are predisposed to acne or rosacea can experience flares as a result of this shift in gut bacteria and subsequent inflammation…”4,5*

“…This gut-skin connection isn’t a new idea: In 1961, a case report found that of 300 acne patients given a probiotic, 80% had clinical improvement. But the notion captured a lot more attention lately. Recent studies conducted in Russian and Italy found that probiotics help acne patients heal better and faster…”4,5

More studies are needed to determine how probiotics can be most effective in treating acne, with topical probiotics in the works as well. Most likely, the research is showing it will be a combination of probiotics like BODY BIOTICSâ„¢ BIO-IDENTICAL SBO PROBIOTICS CONSORTIAâ„¢ along with other topical treatments that will be most effective, but that will be determined with more research and development in this area. The bottom line is to keep the gut healthy with an optimal balance of friendly to unfriendly bacteria, which will support a strong immune system, minimize inflammation and keep your digestion moving and healthy to rid the body of toxins. Remind your teenager to drinking lots of water, eat a clean diet to also keep the skin clear. According to Bowe, probiotics is “…one of this year’s beauty breakthroughs…”6*

Until next week, healthiest wishes!




    E.A. Martin, Oxford Concise Medical Dictionary 6th ed., 2003 (ISBN 0-19-860753-9)

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