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Why Skin Creams & Acne Probiotics Don’t Work – Understanding the Gut-Skin Axis

Aug 10, 2018

Every single day the average woman applies 168 unique chemicals directly to her body through the application of  creams, lotions, and makeup. While men, on average, apply 85 individual chemicals to their bodies daily.1 This is a staggering number of chemicals most of us don’t give a second thought.

Our skin is incredibly absorbent and incorporates many of these chemicals directly into the bloodstream. We believe that these chemicals are helping us, but unless they are clean and pure – they can be causing more harm than good. Sometimes these products can even contain toxins that are actually poisoning us. And if your already have a skin condition, it can be even worse.  

If you’ve struggled with acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis or any other skin condition, you know firsthand how frustrating, uncomfortable, and embarrassing they can be. Skin conditions are beyond irritating – they can make you feel depressed, socially anxious, and seriously affect your confidence and self esteem. 

You deserve to look and feel great! The good news is that the key to improving your skin and overall health begins in the same place – your gut.

You’ve likely heard about your gut microbiome by now, but if not, you’re in for a real surprise. Why? Because the 100 trillion microorganisms living in your gut are turning out to be the most important medical discovery of our time. 

Your gut microbiome communicates with your skin via the gut-skin axis, which directly influences your appearance. 

How exactly do these microbes influence your skin? 

Well, for starters, scientists have found that the line of communication between your immune system, skin, and brain is mediated through your microbes, ultimately influencing:2


  • Inflammation – The underlying cause of most disease.
  • Oxidative stress – A major cause of inflammation. 
  • Tissue lipid levels – A factor important for a healthy metabolism. 
  • Glycemic control – Your ability to balance blood sugar.
  • Neuropeptide levels – A factor linked to your mood, pain tolerance, and body’s homeostasis (balance). 
  • Pathogenic bacteria – Bad bacteria that makes you sick or cause conditions.
  • Mood regulating neurotransmitters – For example, about 90% of your serotonin (your happy neurotransmitter) is made by your gut microbiome. 


The last connection on this list is the reason why skin conditions are strongly associated with depression and anxiety. Not only are skin conditions bringing you down because of their embarrassing outward appearance, they are actually affecting how you feel from within – via your gut microbiome.3

Because beauty literally begins from the inside out. 

When you improve the health of your gut microbiome, you may find that skin issues you’ve been dealing with for years dramatically improve. Just ask Michaela...


Viome Recommendations Helped Michaela’s Clear Up Her Acne 


Michaela had been struggling with acne for 8 years. She’d gone to multiple doctors and tried many solutions throughout her life. 

It wasn’t until she signed up for Viome testing that she was able to finally find a diet perfectly suited to her gut microbiome. A pleasant surprise that followed, was her acne cleared up. Viome’s specialized nutrition advice was the answer she had been looking for. Here's what she had to say:


When you stop and think about it, this actually makes a lot of sense – your gut and skin have a lot in common:4


  • They both protect you from the outside world.
  • They each have microbiomes, which communicate directly with each other. 
  • They are both packed with mast cells (a type of white blood cell), which are the first responders of your immune system. 
  • They originate from the same cells during early development.


Your skin is the lining that interacts with the world around you, while your gastrointestinal tract deals with everything you eat, breathe, and swallow. The foods you eat are metabolized and by-products from food breakdown are directly available to your skin. This is why what you eat has so much influence over your skin’s appearance. 

Think of your skin as a window into the health of your gut.


The Reason Your Skin Creams & Acne Probiotics Don’t Work 


If you’ve struggled with a skin condition, chances are you’ve gone through a lot of different creams, lotions, and other topical remedies. If you’ve heard about the link between a healthy gut and healthy skin, you may have even tried acne probiotics. But you’ve probably found that even if these creams and acne probiotics offer you some relief, it is usually temporary. 

It’s no wonder skin creams prescribed by your doctor don’t work. They are trying to tackle the problem from the outside in, when some skin conditions need to be treated from the inside out, starting at the gut level.

And the reason acne probiotics don’t work? They only contain a handful of microbial strains. Your gut microbiome is made up of over 8,000 strains of bacteria – not to mention all the other important microbes. So introducing just a few strains with a probiotic may not make much of an impact. 

If you want to give your skin a fighting chance, it’s time you checked your gut. 


11 Skin Conditions That Begin in the Gut 


As we deepen our understanding of the gut microbiome it has become more clear that many skin conditions do not originate to the level of the skin, but stem from the gut. 

Here are 11 skin conditions that actually begin in the gut:

  1. Eczema
  2. Rosacea
  3. Acne vulgaris
  4. Cystic acne
  5. Psoriasis
  6. Dandruff
  7. Seborrhoeic dermatitis
  8. Dermatitis herpetiformis
  9. Alopecia
  10. Vitiligo
  11. Oral mucosal lesions (mouth sores)

If you’ve been struggling with any of these, you may want to check your gut.


Unraveling The Gut-Skin Axis


When we begin to dig deeper into the science around the gut-skin axis, it becomes quite clear that healthy skin starts with a healthy  gut. 

The good news is that this connection opens up a world of possibilities for skin therapies. Some medications originally created to treat skin conditions have been found useful in treating gut issues.  For example, a psoriasis medication has been found to be effective in those with severe Crohn’s disease – a condition of the gut.5 This maybe makes the reverse possible as well! 

Wondering about other gut-skin connections we’ve uncovered? Let’s take a quick look at some of the most fascinating. 


Leaky Gut and Cystic Acne


Research has found that acne isn’t so much a condition of the skin as it is a condition of the gut.1 Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) endotoxins are  part of harmful Gram-negative bacteria that have been shown to wreak havoc on the gut and skin. 

Studies have found when you have high levels of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) endotoxins in your body, they can interfere with wound healing and make your scars worse.6 LPS is also associated with acne vulgaris and makes it more likely you’ll have a strong reaction to E. coli lipopolysaccharide endotoxin (E. coli LPS). Having a strong reactivity to E. coli LPS means you’re more likely to have fibrin microclots, which cause small, painful tissue scarring.7 

LPS and E. coli sure do cause a lot of trouble, don’t they? But it gets worse. 

High levels of LPS and E. coli LPS contribute to leaky gut, which allows these pesky bacteria to enter the bloodstream, creating more problems.8 People with leaky gut are more likely to have acne, and when E. coli LPS is involved, it may also cause depression. LPS also makes it more likely you'll develop irritable bowel syndrome and anxiety.2

Shew! All of that makes you want to stay away from LPS endotoxins doesn’t it? Same here. 

The massive influence the gut has on the skin means it’s extremely important to keep your gut happy and healthy. Knowing whether or not you have LPS running rampant in your gut and what you can do to reduce its level is one of the benefits of using Viome microbiome testing. 


Eczema and Gut Health 


We know, without a doubt, that eczema starts in the gut. 

While doctors and dermatologists were looking for solutions at the skin’s surface, they missed the fact that eczema is caused by an overactive immune system. This overactive immune system is usually a consequence of gut microbiota dysbiosis or imbalance. In fact, a drop in microbiome diversity is known to cause eczema flare ups.9

To relieve eczema symptoms, taking steps to reduce inflammation and boost microbial diversity through your diet is critical. An eczema fighting diet needs to be specific to your microbiome and body, which Viome testing can help you with. 


The Rosacea and SIBO Connection


Doctors are uncovering a strong association between people who have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and rosacea.10 Some doctors are even reporting that when they treat their patients for SIBO, the rosacea they’ve had for years suddenly clears up. 

That is seriously great news for rosacea sufferers!

Unfortunately, SIBO was only discovered in 2004 and  many people suffered from rosacea with no knowledge that the source of their problem could be their gut. Many people still do not know about this important connection and haven’t had a chance to see if the cause of their rosacea is actually SIBO. 


Celiac Disease and Skin Conditions


Celiac disease and skin conditions go hand in hand. People with celiac disease are more likely to have:11

  • Dermatitis herpetiformis
  • Alopecia 
  • Eczema
  • Urticaria
  • Vitiligo
  • Oral mucosal lesions

Because people with celiac disease are dealing with a condition of the gut, they have the advantage of being directed to look for gut-related solutions. This means they often inadvertently clear up their skin conditions when they go gluten free or take other steps to reduce the effects of their celiac disease. As for other skin conditions, realizing the gut is the source of the problem often takes much longer – if it happens at all. 


A Healthy Gut Means Healthy Skin


The bottom line is this – if you’re struggling with your skin, stop wasting money on creams, lotions, and other topical treatments. It’s likely that your problem is your gut! 

You can also forget about so-called acne probiotics – though they are targeting the right area of the body, the lack of biodiversity they offer makes them a waste of money. 

Everyone’s gut microbiome requires a unique diet. Viome has uncovered that what is healthy for one person may not be ideal for you. Through testing tens of thousands of microbiomes, we’ve found:

One man’s food is another man’s poison. 

When you use Viome testing, you can harness the power of cutting edge technology to find  solutions for your skin issues through balancing your microbiome. 



Resources:


  1. https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/2004/06/15/exposures-add-up-survey-results/ 
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21281494 
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4997396/ 
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=27554239 
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3562736/ 
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23653386 
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6198846 
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3562736/ 
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5327846/ 
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18456568 
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3369470/ 








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