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Home / Microbiota Health / SIBO and Acne: How Gut Health Impacts Your Skin

SIBO and Acne: How Gut Health Impacts Your Skin

March 16, 2022
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When your mornings are spent tending to your acne—popping pimples, squeezing zits, and applying topical creams—it can be really frustrating, not to mention time-consuming. But that’s not even the worst of it. What’s really discouraging is how unattractive all your acne makes you feel. 

It looks bad on the outside with your skin, but did you know that your insides—more specifically, your gut—could be the root cause of all your pain? 

In this post, we’ll talk specifically about the relationship between SIBO and acne, and why healing your gut holds the key to improving your skin.

What Is SIBO and What Causes It?

Typically, you’ll find most gut bacteria in your large intestine. However, small intestinal bacterial growth (aka SIBO) happens when you get an overflow of bacteria in your small intestine. Symptoms of SIBO include digestive issues like nausea, bloating, abdominal pain, and then, of course, acne. 

But just what causes SIBO? That would be hypochlorhydria, which is just a fancy way of saying low stomach acid. Bad microbes cozy up in your small intestine when you’re low on stomach acid instead of being eliminated during digestion. It’s no coincidence that research shows a strong link between people with acne and low stomach acid.  

How SIBO Can Explain Your Acne

This just in: Your skin mirrors your gut health. In other words, if you’re looking for clearer skin, it might be time to take a look underneath the hood and see what’s going on with your gut.

70% of your immune system can be found in your GI tract. So gut problems or stomach issues will impact other areas of your body, like your skin. That’s why—a lot of the time—SIBO and skin issues like acne go hand in hand. In fact, one study found people with acne were 10 times more likely to have SIBO when compared to a “healthy control group.”

So what’s the connection between SIBO and acne? Let’s take a look in more detail at how your gut impacts your skin.

An Imbalance in Your Gut Can Cause Acne

SIBO can spark shifts in your gut microbiome, which can lead to a gut imbalance, and ultimately, acne. Here’s all that works:

SIBO impacts the structure of your small intestine structure and its ability to function properly. So if you have SIBO, the damage to your small intestine might make it difficult for your body to digest food and take in nutrients the way it should.

When your small intestine’s not functioning properly, it can spill over and cause problems for your large intestine that lead to an overgrowth of bacteria. This shift in your gut microbiome is what can cause acne, in addition to a host of other gut and digestive issues. 

In fact, one study found that 54% of people with acne also had a gut imbalance in their bacteria. Good news is, addressing your gut can help with your acne. Studies show that probiotics can help your body fight off bad bacteria, balance out your gut, and reduce your acne. 

Acne From Inflammation

SIBO can also trigger inflammation that isn’t just limited to your gut, but can spread throughout your whole body. 

Here’s the rundown on inflammation as it relates to SIBO and acne:

When bacteria accumulate in your intestines as it does with SIBO, it elicits an inflammatory response—with acne just being your body’s automatic response to that inflammation. 

That explains why eating certain foods when you have conditions caused by digestive problems—like SIBO, IBD, or Celiac Disease—causes breakouts or flare-ups with your acne. For example, foods like wheat, dairy, and sugar cause your gut to become inflamed—aggravating your SIBO symptoms and appearing as acne on your skin. 

If you suffer from gut conditions like SIBO or IBD, following a low FODMAP diet is one technique you might want to consider to help manage symptoms.

Unfortunately, acne isn’t the only skin condition SIBO has a hand in. It’s also been associated with rosacea—a skin condition caused by inflammation. Rosacea might resemble a skin rash, or small red or pink bumps. 

Research indicates that people with rosacea are more likely to suffer from gastrointestinal conditions like SIBO or IBS. Fortunately, research also shows that focusing on your gut can help. One systematic review found that treating the overgrowth of bacteria in your small intestine was a viable treatment and can improve rosacea. 

All in all—your focus should be on reducing inflammation by removing the bacteria that’s built up in your small intestine. That will improve your gut health, and ultimately, help clear up your acne. 

Acne From Leaky Gut

Now to answer the question: “Can leaky gut cause acne?” 

The short answer is yes, but there are a lot of moving parts and pieces to get there. Here’s how SIBO and acne apply to leaky gut:

Also known as increased intestinal permeability, leaky gut occurs when you get cracks or holes in your gut lining. When that happens, the contents of your gut, such as partially digested food or toxins, can leak out into the bloodstream and cause a body-wide inflammatory response, the end result being acne. Leaky gut can also lead to hormonal imbalances, the likes of which produce androgens (growth and reproduction hormones) that incite acne. 

Bad bacteria in your gut can produce LPS endotoxins. These endotoxins will always be there—it doesn’t matter whether your gut is 100% healthy or if you have a condition like leaky gut. However, the difference between healthy individuals and those with acne is how their bodies react to the LPS endotoxins. Those with acne will probably have a highly negative reaction, which is most likely due to the fact that their guts are more permeable (as would be the cause in someone with leaky gut). 

While SIBO can pave the way for leaky gut, it can also go the other way too. If you develop leaky gut, you may become more likely to develop SIBO, which can result in more pimples and zits. 

Conclusion: What You Can Do to Clear Up Your Skin

Remember—clearing up your skin starts with the gut. So if you’ve tried every topical cream on the market but still struggle with acne, try turning your attention inward and focusing on getting your gut in order. Consider starting a low FODMAP diet to help manage your symptoms with your SIBO, IBS, or other GI issues, and then taking probiotics to help heal your gut, and ultimately, your skin.

If you’re looking for an individual approach to gut health, we offer personalized probiotics to help with SIBO, leaky gut, bloating, abdominal pain, and a host of other gut-related issues. That means instead of having to take multiple supplements, we craft a unique, one-of-a-kind formula to address your gut health needs. One-pill-a-day and shipped right to your door.

Learn more about personalized probiotics!

References:

Author Byline: Chad Richardson is a freelance writer from Cincinnati, OH. When he’s not behind his computer, you can find Chad at the gym doing his best Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation, or out at a game rooting on his hometown teams.

Read more about Chad on his business website.

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