can probiotics cause acne

Can Probiotics Cause Acne Breakouts or Help?

I suppose you have also been caught up in the probiotic skincare trend. And it is entirely understandable because our desperation to achieve clear skin is supposed to lead us somewhere, right?

Gladly, you don’t need to overthink the worst possible outcomes here because we already harbor a probiotic-rich microbiome in our gut, gum, and even our skin. Therefore, probiotics, especially topical ones, are less likely to cause pimples/acne. 

In the subsequent sections, I have discussed, in detail, the relationship between probiotics and skin health, both in the view of science and the practical experience of people.

So, keep reading to know the details.

Probiotics and Acne – What’s the Correlation?

girl with acne

Multiple human and animal trials serve as evidence of the benefit of probiotics in treating acne.  So far, science has identified multiple reasons behind acne formation. 

Some of these factors may be dry and cracked skin or the colonization of bacteria such as Propionibacterium acnes. Consequently, the potential of probiotic bacteria was explored as an effective treatment option.

Gladly, research yielded positive results, and it was found that probiotics not only interfere with the growth of acne-causing bacteria but also improve compliance to anti-acne treatments.

So, here are some ways in which probiotics may affect acne.

Do Probiotics Help Acne Or Make It Worse?

It is now a decided fact that topical probiotics may be used as potential cures for skin diseases, including acne. Compared to this, oral intake of probiotics does have a risk of causing breakouts, but that too happens in rare cases.

Regardless of that, here are some ways in which probiotics prevent acne:

Produce Anti-Bacterial Compounds

Nearly all bacteria have certain anti-bacterial mechanisms that help them compete with others for growth, and these chemicals may also serve an anti-acne benefit.

For instance, research has identified that Streptococcus salivarius, a bacterium that resides in the gut and the oral cavity, produces anti-bacterial peptides called bacteriocin-like inhibitory substances (BLIS) that stall the proliferation of p. acnes.

Similarly, strains from the Lactococcus genus also have anti-microbial activity against the acne-causing bacteria, namely Staphylococcus epidermidisStaphylococcus aureusStreptococcus pyogenes, and P. acnes.

Contribute To Healthy Skin

Probiotics help to strengthen the skin barrier and increase the production of ceramides that support moisture retention in the skin. 

In this regard, in-vitro (in a lab) and in-vivo (in body) studies support the topical use of the lactic-acid bacteria Streptococcus thermophilus for seven days to increase skin ceramide levels.

It does this because it contains the enzyme sphingomyelinase, which has a role in the production of ceramides.

Here, ceramides are a kind of waxy lipid molecule that helps to prevent water loss from the skin.  Additionally, they may have anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties as well.

As a result, moisturized skin with the skin barrier intact can effectively prevent penetration and colonization of acne-causing bacteria, making it less prone to breakouts.

The discussion about ceramides is important because scientists have found that people who are aging, have acne, or have other skin-related diseases have low levels of ceramide in them.

Additionally, other bacteria that have similar roles belong to the genus Bacillus, Listeria, Staphylococcus, Mycobacterium, Chlamydia, Pseudomonas, Leptospira, and Helicobacter.

Reduce Inflammation

According to research, both oral and topical probiotics have an anti-inflammatory effect that helps to calm down acne bumps. Hence, studies on Lactobacillus species prove that oral intake of probiotics helps to reduce the inflammation around follicles which prevents acne formation.

Moreover, a trial with topical application of Enterococcus fecalis lotion has shown that it causes a reduction in inflammatory lesions.

Enhance Outcome Of Anti-Acne Treatment

Clinical trials that assessed the pairing of probiotics intake with acne medicines reported that this combination improves the absorption of the drugs and prevents their side effects.

For instance, a clinical trial performed on forty-five females showed that the group receiving minocycline with probiotics had better improvement in their lesions.

Compared to this, two participants of the group who received only minocycline developed a vaginal infection (candidiasis).

An Exception Where Probiotics May Cause Acne

Now coming towards why probiotics intake may cause acne in some cases.

According to Dr.Lauryn, probiotics may lead to Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), yeast overgrowth, or gut microbiome dysbiosis, which may cause breakouts.

Here, SIBO might occur when the probiotic bacteria overgrow in the small intestine instead of the colon, where it actually should be. The point to note here is that an overgrowth of even probiotic bacteria will ruin the stable gut environment.

Hence, it may cause microbiome dysbiosis or yeast infections which may trigger either fungal acne or other types of bumps.

This is why they say that pimples indicate your gut health as well. 

Can Probiotics Cause Acne – Reddit Stories

Yes, oral probiotics may cause acne flare up, but the risk is very minute and close to none with topical antibiotics.

For instance, A Reddit user shared that his/her acne cleared in a week after probiotic use. To this, ‘jollynecromancer’ replied that his skin also became healthy in a matter of 5 days and is not excessively oily or dehydrated anymore.

Another Reddit user Freaklegg shared that despite religiously following her skincare routine, she was still breaking out and couldn’t pick out the reason.  However, she ultimately realized that she had been taking the antibiotic azithromycin for the last seven days, and she started retaking her probiotics. 

After only five days, she noticed that her skin was clearing up. It got smoother and had fewer blemishes.  Many in the replies also shared that probiotics helped them with rosacea and antibiotic-caused acne.

However, Monicatuesday shared in her Reddit post that she thinks that her fungal acne has flared up due to her probiotic intake. 

To this, the repliers recommended that she check up with her doctor to check if her probiotic is suitable for her condition. 

Another replier guessed that her probiotics might have triggered some stomach issues, which are causing acne.

What Other Skin Problems Can Probiotics Cause?

Probiotics are generally good for the skin, but in some rare case scenarios, they may cause some side effects. For instance, in a 2018 study, two of the participants who took probiotics for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) developed an itchy rash in them.

Additionally, in some cases, probiotic intake may also trigger an allergic reaction which may cause hives.

FAQs on Probiotics and Skin

Can probiotics cause cystic acne?

Yes, probiotics might trigger cystic acne according to user experience but are no scientific evidence to support this.

Can switching probiotics cause acne?

Yes, according to user experience, certain probiotics may suit you better than others. Hence switching antibiotics may trigger acne if it isn’t compatible with your gut needs.

Can probiotics cause fungal acne?

Yes, yeast is a common probiotic, and an overgrowth of yeast may trigger fungal acne.

Can probiotics cause baby acne?

Yes, it is theorized that the baby’s gut is in the process of acquiring a stable microbiota in their gut.  Therefore, during this time period, an imbalance of the probiotics may cause acne in them. 

Can starting probiotics cause acne?

Yes, starting probiotics may push your microbiota composition off balance; hence, it may cause you to break out.

Can stopping probiotics cause acne?

No, there is no evidence that shows that stopping probiotics will cause acne. However, acne flare-ups may relapse if you were taking probiotics for treating a condition or in combination with antibiotics to reduce their side effects.

Can a lack of probiotics cause acne?

Yes, a lack of probiotics may cause acne. This is because certain probiotic bacteria counter the growth of acne-causing species and help to maintain skin health which prevents breakouts.

Can taking too many probiotics cause acne?

Yes, too many probiotics may take your microbiota towards an imbalance which may trigger breakouts.  The reason is that it may increase the number of certain bacteria that are already in abundance, and this may cause breakouts.

Can women’s probiotics cause acne?

There is no specific answer to this question, but since women’s probiotics are mostly based on lactic acid bacteria and cranberry; hence they should not cause acne but instead reduce it.

Can oral probiotics cause acne?

Yes, oral probiotics are live bacteria, and they have more chances than topical probiotics to trigger acne. This is because they may upset the gut, which ultimately shows on the skin.


In all, you may use probiotics to clear up acne. I would recommend trying Yourbiology Gut+ or Biotics8.

This is because multiple studies have proved their efficacy in reducing acne flares. Additionally, you can also add probiotics to your daily regimen to improve the efficiency of the acne treatment that you are taking.

On top of that, much of the user experience also vouches for probiotics as an effective acne treatment.

However, as everything doesn’t work the same for everybody so there are also some negative reviews.

Therefore, to avoid any reverse outcome, take your doctor’s suggestion on the probiotic that you should use to get rid of those pesky pimples.

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