It’s a question I have long been hoping the answer was “No” to: Could your acne be caused by gut problems?
But I am now 150% confident that the answer is a resounding and astounding, “Yes.” Yes, acne can be caused by gut problems.
If you’re acne prone and you have gut issues as well, I think this post will be invaluable.
I always knew that Perioral Dermatitis had everything to do with the gut. I healed my Perioral Dermatitis naturally with diet and lifestyle, so I definitely saw that correlation.
The secret to healing your acne with diet, lifestyle, and supplements is to understand what gut problem(s) is/are causing it.
Here is why I say that.
If you do some Internet research on this topic, many people will tell you,
Repopulate ‘good’ bacteria by eating fermented foods, taking a high-quality probiotic, and getting in as much fiber as possible to flush through your system.
You will likely even stumble upon posts like this, “8 Foods for Good Gut Bacteria.”
Do I believe that your acne can be healed like that? Sure, but only if that’s what your gut needs.
Unfortunately, for most people with severe IBS and/or IBD, those three things are not the immediate answer. And in fact, I would argue they could make your acne worse (or at the very least less likely to see any healing progress).
Could Your Acne Be Caused By Gut Problems
Click HERE to save this post for later.
Here are some cited resources linking acne and the gut:
- Acne and Inflammation
Listen to the THIS episode of The Balanced Bites Podcast (Side note: In it, Liz mentions, “But when you start to discover all of the different active ingredients that are so well known, so well studied, and so safe for things like acne, you just get kind of addicted to learning more about what might be able to help your skin. And one of the reasons Diane was just talking about this line of products that we got to try at the Beautycounter summit. One of the reasons it’s so awesome is because it’s this concoction of highly pure active ingredients that are really, really effective, and known to be effective, in healing the skin.” Wondering what that product is? It’s now available, and I wrote all about it for you HERE.)
- How Fermented Foods Can Trigger Acne
- SIBO: A Contributing Factor in Acne and Rosacea
- Gut bacteria can change in 3 days
- Hormones, Acne, and the Gut
- Gut-Skin-Brain Axis
- Low Stomach Acid
Is Low Stomach Acid the Reason Behind Your Acne? (Note: Low stomach acid is a cause of SIBO, and you can click HERE to see if you have low stomach acid.)
Cystic Acne on Back
I’m living proof.
And this is the part you’ve all been waiting for….my own, personal experience.
Do I really want to share these pictures? Not really, but without them, I can’t fully prove my point.
Here was my back on February 25, 2018 (shortly after I knew the SIBO had relapsed).
And then on March 16, 2018. (I’m really trying to tell myself that diet and lifestyle has nothing to do with acne.)
Finally, I took this picture last Thursday, May 31. (When I took this picture, I had only made changes about a week prior, on Wednesday, May 23.)
Literally all that remains is some scarring.
I didn’t start Rifaximin/Neomycin until Friday, June 1, so even though those antibiotics typically always help clear the skin, that was not what I did.
Everything I did during the week that saw massive healing was 100% natural. I tracked it all in a journal so I knew for sure.
Here is exactly what I did.
Here are 6 ways I naturally healed my cystic back acne in 1 week.
Click HERE to save these 6 ways for later.
Went back to everything from The Gutsy Girl’s Bible: an approach to healing the gut, 3.0, as if I was starting on Day 1.
- Combination of GAPS Diet + Low-FODMAP
(And yes, between these first two alone, my diet was highly altered from what I had been doing. No more grains, so I was mourning the loss of Mr. Rice. No more sugars or Booch, so I was mourning the loss of many things. And so much more. I didn’t even have a banana for a few days.)
- HCL like a champ
I had gotten lazy with the HCL, but since I know that’s my main (at least one of them) issue with SIBO relapse, I started consistently taking HCL about 3 times a day.
- Digestive Enzymes
No matter what I was eating, I started getting help with Digestive Enzymes again.
(Insert me pouring it over my life.) I put it on and in everything. NOW Foods says 1 tsp a day (5 mg) for starters, but I’m doing more like 15 – 20 mg a day.
(Also insert me pouring it over my life.) Without consuming any smoothies, this one was more challenging to do, but I added it in it a weird way. I’d make an entire bag of green beans, then once they were super hot, I’d pour Liquid Coconut Oil over them, add in any meat, and quickly sprinkle as much Gelatin as I could without it getting clumpy. Then, I’d stir until it was mostly added in. Worked like a charm (the secret is that the food has to be hot and you have to use enough oil, which, by the way, can also be great for gut healing.)
Probiotics for Acne
Due to the massive gut-skin connection, probiotics for acne can be an option, as previously mentioned.
If you have never tried this one, you might consider it.
My friends at Just Thrive Health say this,
What’s going on in your microbiome – where trillions of bacteria reside in your gut – is reflected on your skin.
I swear by the Just Thrive probiotic for many reasons which I describe HERE. If you want to try them, you can use my code AGUTSYGIRL HERE to save 15% off your Just Thrive order.
If you’re interested in learning more about why the Just Thrive probiotic might be best for acne, check Skin Deep Probiotics.
Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that oral antibiotics are an option.
Here are some common ones people use:
- Tetracyclines, which include:
- Doxycycline (such as Vibramycin or Monodox)
- Minocycline (such as Minocin)
If you decide they are for you, then go for it. I’m not here to judge.
But here is what I will tell you from personal experience. If you aren’t addressing the underlying reason for the cystic acne in the first place, the antibiotics will only take you so far.
Read my story with them HERE.
I took: Erythromycin and Bactroban (topical antibiotic). I was also on birth control at one point. While I believe they maybe temporarily helped, it always came back.
Sources: HERE, HERE, and HERE.
You Have a Choice
But listen, YOU have a choice. We all have choices, and our choices make or break us.
In no way, shape, or form did I want to do any of the above. It’s a pain in my a#$, takes time, and costs money.
But ultimately I sort of just snapped. I was SO sick and tired of knowing my cystic back acne was caused by gut inflammation and not doing anything about it.
If you have cystic acne, a rotten gut, you’re starving, and gaining weight (or losing too much), depressed, anxious, and/or anything else, you must look within and really assess the situation before putting the blame on someone else or throwing the hands in the air saying,
I’ve done everything, though.
Because, have you really done everything?
I tried telling myself that I had done everything.
Clearly I didn’t because all it took was one week for insane turnaround to happen.
If you’re sitting there reading this today and asking, “Could my acne be caused by gut problems,” know that the answer is YES.
You have the power TODAY to start making changes.
I’m always here to listen.
If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:
p.s. For another day, but great skin starts with the gut and is maintained day-in, day-out by the skin and body care products you choose. That’s why I choose Beautycounter, over-and-over.
Thanks for the post they are always so helpful. I have been working on healing my gut for about 6 months now and was doing pretty well until now I am battling post birth control breakouts that are driving me insane!! Not really acne more like whiteheads of various sizes all over my face.
I recently cut out dairy and sugar to try and help. I follow most of what you mentioned already but of course get slack from time to time. You recommended Gelatin…I use Collagen powder (Dr. Meyers brand)…is this basically the same thing?
Thanks again, Jennifer.
Sarah Kay Hoffman says
Hi Jennifer –
Thanks for stopping by. Some things:
1. Are you still consuming grains?
2. Have you ever done the HCL test? Are your stomach acid levels good?
3. Do you take digestive enzymes?
4. No, collagen and gelatin are not the same. Read –> A Guide to Collagen vs. Gelatin http://bit.ly/skhgcolgel
5. I use Vital Proteins Gelatin, which I linked to in the post.
6. I will have much more collagen and gelatin information coming in the next few months.
7. Grab my e-book for more 🙂
Thanks for much for the response! Well I eat oatmeal almost every morning…I guess that is considered a grain?
I take HCL and Diamine Oxidase digestive enzymes ( I have a histamine intolerance) with each meal except my morning oatmeal.
I will read your post and do need your ebook….I wish we could buy in a hard copy:)
I also recently read about DIM and Zinc for balancing hormones after stopping BC which i am going to start both of these. I blame 21 years on BC for many of the issues I have experienced!
RICH GELDREICH says
I discovered over the years that my facial acne (which is minor) is definitely related to my gut’s health. When my gut is healthy and full of good probiotic bacteria, my acne is non-existent and my face looks great. When my gut is unbalanced or unhealthy, not so much.
After I finished treating for SIBO and started eating lots of homemade probiotic yogurt (using 10-strain probiotic capsules as a starter culture), my acne virtually disappeared.
My theory is that most of your immune system is in your gut, and when your gut is unbalanced your immune system has to “rev up” to keep your gut microbiota in check. When this occurs, it basically gets trigger happy leading to acne as a side effect. So if you have acne, you have nothing to lose by improving your gut’s health.