How Probiotics Help Rosacea and Acne

Did you know that probiotics not only help improve digestive health, but also benefit your skin? Especially if you have Rosacea or acne.

Current research suggests that gut and skin health are very intertwined. Your skin has many strains of “friendly bacteria” living on it. This is called a “microbiome.” These friendly bacteria help keep your skin healthy and maintain its function as a barrier.

The same is true in your digestive system. Friendly bacteria in your gut help to break down your food and to keep any harmful bacteria you ingest from growing and causing problems.

After reading this article, you’ll have an understanding of how the bacteria in your gut influence your skin health. You’ll see why taking probiotics for Rosacea or acne can improve your symptoms and your skin’s natural barrier. You’ll also get anti-inflammatory diet recommendations to help control your Rosacea flares and acne breakouts in a holistic way.

At the end you can download a complementary recipe card to start making Easy Homemade Yogurt with Maximum Probiotics.

What is the Gut-Brain-Skin Axis?Robynne Chutkan_Gutbliss_author

“The gut is a hollow tube that runs the length of the body, from the mouth to the anus, so think of the digestive tract as the inside of the skin. It’s helpful to think that way. Really, the two are very connected.” explains Robynne Chutkan, MD, author of Gutbliss and assistant professor in gastroenterology at Georgetown University Hospital.*1

According to current scientific theories, chronic stress and poor diet affect the amount and type of bacteria living in the gut. The “gut-brain-skin axis” theory says that stress and diet can slow digestion. Many times when we’re feeling stressed, we choose more convenient food options to save time, and these foods tend to be processed foods that don’t contain fiber.

This creates an environment that is more friendly to unhealthy bacteria, and these bacteria grow in number. These unfriendly bacteria can make the gut lining more permeable, or “leaky,” than it is supposed to be. When the gut lining is more “leaky” than it should be, it can result in toxins being released into the bloodstream.

The body reacts to this by protecting itself from these toxins by creating an immune response that results in inflammation. This is how the cycle of chronic inflammation starts. People who are prone to Rosacea and acne are susceptible to experiencing flares as a result of this inflammation cycle.

Experimenting with SIBO and Rosacea

SIBO is a term used to describe small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). This is a condition where the gut microbiome has shifted more toward bad bacteria.

Italian researchers found that a significant percentage of the Rosacea patients had SIBO. “There was a higher prevalence of this bacterial overgrowth among the Rosacea patients than in the control group as well as the general population.” explained Dr. Chutkan. While there is a correlation between the two, this is not necessarily a causation.

His study went on to give the patients with bacterial imbalances antibiotics. They found that by disrupting the overgrowth of bad bacteria, about 70 percent of the patients’ skin cleared up entirely, and over 20 percent had improvement in their Rosacea symptoms.*2


Now, before you call up your doctor, there is a gentler way to reduce the bad bacteria in your gut. You don’t need to kill all of your microbiome to get your Rosacea or acne under control! There may be some other things you’re using that are weakening your skin though, like certain acne medications.

How the Skin Barrier Gets Disrupted

Unfortunately, a side effect of many acne medications is the disruption of your skin barrier function. You can often feel this with topical retinoids and benzoyl peroxide, which many people use to try to control their acne and Rosacea breakouts.

The irritation, stinging, and dryness caused by these medications often causes patients to stop their acne regimens. This may be your body’s way of asking for a gentler, more natural solution.

If you have Rosacea or atopic dermatitis, these are two more skin conditions where your skin barrier is impaired. These conditions improve when the skin barrier is strengthened. One of the ways to strengthen your skin’s barrier is by using probiotics. Here’s how.

Probiotics for Rosacea

probiotics on skinA new area of science is proving that the traditional wisdom of probiotic use supports a broad spectrum of health benefits. This area of science is called pharmabiotics. It’s focus is on using probiotics to treat and prevent inflammatory health conditions, such as Rosacea. In this sense, pharmabiotics explores the use of probiotic bacteria as natural pharmaceuticals.

At Organic Radiance Skincare, we are very interested in supporting research that dives deeper into using probiotics for Rosacea. That’s why we partner with non-profit organizations, such as the National Rosacea Society, to help further Rosacea research. When you purchase products from, we donate a portion of our revenue to support causes like this.

Probiotics have been shown to affect the immune system. Certain strains shift the immune response toward an anti-inflammatory state. The ability of probiotics to calm chronic inflammatory states is very promising for treating chronic inflammatory skin conditions, like acne, Rosacea, atopic dermatitis, and photo-aging.*4

The potential in using probiotics for Rosacea is to help people to avoid the side effects of traditional drugs, while preventing and treating inflammation. Certain strains of probiotics have been shown to improve the skin barrier and increase skin hydration when taken orally.*3

Lactobacillus plantarum is one of these strains. When applied to the skin, it also has antimicrobial properties and an anti-inflammatory effect. Studies show that Lactobacillus is effective in reducing redness and acne lesion size, as well as repairing the skin’s natural barrier.*6

Adding Probiotics to Your Diet

Now that we know that adding oral probiotics to a treatment plan for Rosacea and acne helps to improve symptoms, its time to talk about adding foods with live active cultures to our diet.

“I would recommend that patients with acne or rosacea see their dermatologist to talk about adding foods with live active cultures, such as yogurt, to their diets or taking an oral probiotic supplement daily. Although I don’t envision probiotics ever being used as a stand-alone treatment for acne or rosacea, they could be used as an effective combination therapy” says Dr. Whitney P. Bowe, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York.*5

Look for active cultures containing Lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium in yogurts. Avoid flavored yogurts, which contain a significant amount of added sugar. Fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kombucha, pickles, and kimchi are also great sources of probiotics. Make sure the label says “live active cultures,” as some of these are pasteurized to increase shelf life.

Easy Homemade Yogurt with Maximum Probiotics

homemade-yogurt-in-mason-jarsOne of the riches sources of active cultures is homemade yogurt. Making yogurt is simple, and it’s a fun and easy way to reduce inflammation by adding a large number of probiotic organisms to your diet.

Most store-bought yogurts are only partially fermented and still contain a lot of lactose, the sugar in milk. Read more about my Easy Homemade Yogurt recipe here.

Download the recipe card to get the full instructions and get started making Easy Homemade Yogurt with Maximum Probiotics.

Making homemade yogurt is an easy first step toward better gut and skin health. Now let’s take a look at the next steps to controlling inflammation, which are taking out foods in your diet that “add fuel to the fire” and replacing them with nutrient-dense foods.

Rosacea Diet Recommendations

The key to making any diet changes is to understand that when you feel hungry, your body is craving nutrients, not only calories. When I approach eating as a way to honor my body, I see eating as a form of self-care. When I’m making the right choices, it’s easier for me to control my portions and not let the pleasure of eating control my choices.

When I set out to reduce the inflammation I was experiencing, a couple of diets popped up in my research. The Anti-inflammatory Diet and the Paleolithic or “Paleo” Diet both support the same premise: take out foods that we know to increase inflammation and add in high-nutrient foods.

To adopt an anti-inflammatory diet for Rosacea, you will start by excluding added sugars and starchy or complex carbohydrates. This means sweetened drinks, baked goods, chips, breads, and pasta. Focus on eating nutrient-dense foods, such as deeply pigmented fruits and vegetables. This means getting creative with adding in more salads and cooked vegetables. Add in good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, such as wild salmon and flax oil.

The Paleo diet also helps support a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut. Gutblisss author Dr. Chutkan recommends to “cut out sugar and processed grain and eat unlimited amounts of animal protein, fruits and vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Avoid peanuts and other legumes, as well as dairy.”


Yogurt presents a gray area for those looking for diet recommendations. I choose to eat yogurt only if it is unsweetened and unflavored, since store bought yogurts typically have a lot of added sugar and are only partially fermented (meaning they contain less probiotics). If you’d rather not eat yogurt daily, supplements like LifeExtension FLORASSIST® Balance probiotic, are another choice for creating a microbiome of beneficial flora in your gut (use amazon affiliate link by clicking on the photo to support articles like this one).*7

We are only just starting to understand how the gut microbiome is related to Rosacea, inflammation, and skin health. More research is needed for scientists and doctors to approach healing with a more holistic approach.

Right now we know that a shift in the microbiome toward unhealthy bacteria (SIBO) is correlated with Rosacea. Many of the products we use for controlling symptoms disrupt our skin’s natural barrier. We would rather heal our skin’s barrier than use antibiotics or acne medications, which can cause unwanted side effects.

One way to restore the skin’s barrier is by using probiotics as natural pharmaceutical agents to balance the bacteria living in the gut. An easy way to add a large amount of probiotics to your diet is with homemade yogurt. Making changes to your diet can have a huge impact on your body’s ability to control inflammation. To plan meals for a Rosacea diet, doctors recommend a taking out foods that add to inflammation and replacing them with nutrient-dense foods.

To get started making your own probiotic rich yogurt, download the complementary recipe card for Easy Homemade Yogurt with Maximum Probiotics. Simply enter your email into the form below. You can opt-out at any time and we never share your information.


1. Eating Right for Rosacea: Answers From Dr. Chutkan

2. Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth in Rosacea: Clinical Effectiveness of Its Eradication
Andrea Parodi, Stefania Paolino, Alfredo Greco, Francesco Drago, Carlo Mansi, Alfredo Rebora, Aurora Parodi, Vincenzo Savarino

3. The effect of probiotics on immune regulation, acne, and photoaging. Mary-Margaret Kobera and Whitney P. Bowe

4. Benyacoub J., Bosco N., Blanchard C., Demont A., Phillippe D., Castiel-Higounenc I. Immune modulation property of Lactobacillus paracasei NCC2461 (ST11) strain and impact on skin defenses. Benef Microbes. 2014;5:129–136.

5. Could probiotics be the next big thing in acne and rosacea treatments? SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (Feb. 3, 2014)

6. Physiological effect of a probiotic on skin. Muizzuddin N1, Maher W, Sullivan M, Schnittger S, Mammone T.J Cosmet Sci. 2012 Nov-Dec;63(6):385-95.

7. LifeExtension FLORASSIST® Balance probiotic

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3 thoughts on “How Probiotics Help Rosacea and Acne”

  1. Great article, but I have a question. Does your stomach acid kill probiotics that you eat in food?

    1. Hi Katherine, that’s a really great question! Certain bacteria, like Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Streptococcus species have the capability to survive gastric acid. However, the some bacteria used in store-bought yogurts, like L. bulgaricus, S. thermophilus, Leuconostoc, and Lactococcus species, don’t survive passage through the stomach. I recommend choosing a yogurt that lists the bacterial species used, and to choose one with the first three if possible for your yogurt starter.

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