Can probiotics cause itches & rashes

Can Probiotics Cause Rash and Itches? (this could be why)

As someone who has struggled greatly with allergies and skin issues for years, I was excited to learn about the potential benefits and effects of probiotics on skin conditions. However, I quickly realized that not all probiotics are created equal.

In fact, I learned that some strains can actually trigger allergic reactions and might cause rashes, hives, and itching. But don’t let that scare you away from probiotics altogether.

In this blog post, I’ll share my personal experience with probiotics and explain what you need to know to avoid any unpleasant reactions. So, whether you’re looking to improve your gut health or treat a skin condition, read on to learn about the potential benefits and risks of probiotics.

Key Highlights
  • Probiotics may help prevent or treat allergies, but some strains can produce histamine – which can trigger some allergic reactions.
  • Allergic reactions to probiotics can cause rashes, hives, itching, watery eyes, wheezing, runny nose, and other symptoms.
  • Probiotics can affect the skin in various ways, including causing itching due to an overgrowth of Lactobacillus and possibly causing eczema.
  • However, probiotics also have skin benefits, such as helping to treat acne, eczema, and UV-induced skin damage.
  • Click here for the BEST PRICE of our recommend probiotics supplement.

Did you know that numerous studies, including a 1997 clinical trial and a 2005 review, show that probiotics might help prevent or treat allergies, which often manifest as rashes and itches?

But while probiotics might have beneficial effects against allergies, there have also been reports of people developing a rash and itches after taking these supplements.

How is that possible?

Lets dive in:

Can You Get An Allergic Reaction From Probiotics?

Yes. Although most people consider probiotics as harmless and “just for the tummy,” they can actually have a huge impact on our bodies, thanks to the gut-brain axis.

This axis shows a direct connection between our gut and our brains.

So, why does that matter? Well, when you take probiotics, they’re processed by the digestive system. 

Sometimes, however, some of its ingredients could trigger an allergic reaction. As explained above, the probiotic strains themselves might also mistakenly signal the immune system about a perceived threat even if that doesn’t actually exist.

The good news is that the probiotics used in these supplements already exist in your bodies, and most people aren’t allergic to them. However, it’s also true that certain ingredients can trigger the attack and lead to these allergy symptoms.

But how do you know that it’s an allergic attack?

Symptoms of Probiotic Allergy (rashes, itches, etc.)

There are several possible symptoms that you might develop if you have an allergy to probiotics. Rashes can manifest as red and itchy patches on your skin, hives (a rash with raised red patches), or eczema (a rash that causes pimple-like bumps filled with clear fluid).

woman itching with rashes

You can also feel itchy in areas like your nose, skin, lips, and/or eyes.

According to the AAFA (Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America), people with allergies can also experience the following symptoms if presented by their trigger or allergen:

  • Watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing (a whistling sound while breathing)
  • Runny nose
  • Tongue swelling
  • Stomach cramps
  • Throat closing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Cough
  • Swelling
  • Chest tightness or losing your breath
  • Blacking out
  • Feeling faint
  • Sense of impending doom

The severity of the allergy attack can vary.

Even if you’re allergic to probiotics or a supplement’s ingredients, you might not experience all of the symptoms listed above. Many might just experience rashes and itches, while others could have different symptoms.

No matter which symptoms you show, it’s good to seek your doctor’s advice before taking probiotics again.

Also, just a safety note from me: If you actually have known food or drug allergies, be sure to ask your doctor if you can take probiotics before getting your first dose.

It’s also practical to check the label for ingredients (called allergens) that could trigger an allergy attack.

There are also ingredients in some probiotic supplements, including milk, soy, or yeast, that could also trigger an allergic reaction.

Can Probiotics Affect Your Skin?

Yes, probiotics can affect your skin. Aside from their involvement (cause, prevention, or treatment) in allergy attacks, probiotics also have other direct effects on your skin.

How can probiotics affect your skin other than causing allergies?

Let’s answer typical questions about this topic below.

Can Lactobacillus Cause Itching?

Lactobacillus is a typical protective bacteria commonly found in the gut and the vaginal area, but an overgrowth can lead to vaginal itching. 

However, this itching isn’t due to an infection.

According to Evvy doctors, this condition is called cytolytic vaginosis, a condition often mistaken for other causes of vaginal itching, including bacterial vaginosis or yeast infections due to their similar symptoms.

Cytolytic vaginosis due to Lactobacillus can lead to:

  • Itching or burning in the vaginal area
  • Stinging pain while urinating
  • Pain or discomfort during penetrative sex
  • Increased vaginal discharge of watery or cottage cheese-like consistency (looks similar to a yeast infection)

The last symptom brings us to the next question:

Can Probiotics Make Candida (Yeast Infection) Worse?

No. Probiotics might actually help alleviate or treat yeast infections.

Although cytolytic vaginosis from Lactobacillus overgrowth and yeast infection could have similar symptoms, particularly itching and stinging or burning pain during urination, these two are different.

Yeast infection is due to the overgrowth of Candida, which can be due to low levels of Lactobacillus.

It could also cause redness or swelling in the vaginal area, lumpy white patches on the skin, and abnormal, possibly foul-smelling vaginal discharge.

A 2020 clinical trial showed that study subjects taking probiotics had a lower (7.2%) rate of Candida infection recurrence than the control group (35.5%).

Although further studies are still needed to determine the effectiveness of probiotics for Candida treatment, K Health explained that study results for Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14 strains showed promising results.

Can Probiotics Cause Eczema?

Yes, probiotics can possibly cause eczema. Sometimes, an allergic reaction to probiotics can lead to eczema, characterized by red, itchy skin that might also appear as pimple-like bumps filled with a clear fluid.

Because they’re itchy, there’s a tendency for you to scratch these bumps, causing them to ooze and crust over. However, numerous studies have also shown that probiotics can help prevent and manage or treat eczema.

For example, the 2005 review I mentioned above explained that regular intake of Lactobacillus probiotics can lead to a long-term reduction in the incidence of atopic eczema.

The same review also pointed out that Lactobacillus probiotics can help control atopic eczema and cow’s milk allergy in infants.

So, how can you tell what these rashes look like? Take a look at the photos I share below.

Probiotic Rash Pictures

The following are some photos of what rashes from probiotic use might look like:

Probiotic Rash Picture1
Probiotic Rash Pictures2

These are also images of people who had rashes due to other conditions but were healed, thanks to probiotic use:

Probiotic skin therapy eczema

Thankfully, as shown in these photos, probiotics don’t always cause rashes and itches on your skin. In fact, most people actually enjoy their benefits rather than these potential side effects.

Let’s discuss these skin benefits below.

Benefits Of Probiotics On Your Skin

A 2015 review stated that probiotic bacteriotherapy (treatment with probiotics) can have great potential in both preventing and treating the following skin conditions:

  • Acne
  • Eczema or atopic dermatitis
  • Allergic inflammation
  • Skin hypersensitivity
  • UV-induced skin damage

The researchers added that probiotics can also help with wound protection and might be used as a cosmetic product.

These conclusions and a list of benefits are backed by a number of studies, some of which I’ve already discussed above.

Aside from the ones listed in the 2015 review above, let’s discuss the other possible benefits of probiotics on your skin below.

Probiotics Vs. Psoriasis (a condition characterized by dry, itchy, and red skin)

According to the APDKC team of Adult & Pediatric Dermatology led by Dr. David Kaplan, probiotics are potentially beneficial in treating psoriasis, an inflammatory bowel disease that leads to dry, itchy, and red skin.

The team explained that a recent study with probiotics showed an inverse trend between the use of probiotics and the occurrence of skin lesions. 

That could mean that using more probiotics might reduce these common psoriasis symptoms.

Probiotics Vs. Skin Fungus

According to researchers of a 2022 probiotic book, there’s a rise in the number of fungal pathogens, especially with the increased number of immunocompromised individuals across the world.

While the drugs usually used to treat fungus are becoming more toxic because the fungal pathogens are developing resistance, these researchers believe that probiotics might be a promising treatment option.

Aside from using probiotics as a treatment against skin fungus, the researchers also explained that it can also improve our skin’s innate immunity to prevent other skin conditions and other dermal effects.

Probiotics Vs. Skin Aging

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends sun protection by applying sunscreen to visible skin to reduce the risks of premature skin aging. 

However, a 2016 study showed that probiotics might also achieve a similar effect by preventing skin aging through the following mechanisms:

  • Improving the skin barrier function
  • Alleviating oxidative stress (excess of harmful free radicals in the body)
  • Attenuating photoaging (premature aging due to overexposure to the sun’s UV rays)
  • Restoring acidic skin pH (less acidic skin might be more prone to “bad” bacteria growth that can lead to skin damage)

Probiotics Vs. Skin Cancer

According to another 2020 review, probiotics might play a promising role in skin cancer and wound healing. However, this still needs further studies and clinical trials to confirm the results.

So, now that we’ve also learned that probiotics can be good for the skin, which ones are the best choices? Let’s dig deeper into this subject in the next section.

Which Probiotic Is Best For The Skin?

These are some of the best probiotics that can benefit your skin, according to explains board-certified dermatologist Mary-Margaret Kober, MD, FAAD, on Healthline:

  • Lactobacillus 
  • Bifidobacterium 
  • Streptococcus thermophilus
  • Bacillus coagulans
  • Staphylococcus hominis
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis
  • Vitreoscilla 

She also recommends choosing probiotic supplements that contain the probiotic strains above plus the following for best results:

  • Plant sugars or prebiotics (fructooligosaccharides, fructooligosaccharides, and galactooligosaccharides)
  • Calcium
  • Sulfur
  • Magnesium
  • Amino acids

But because I also told you above that probiotics might actually cause rashes and itches due to allergies, it’s also a good idea to identify which ones have high or low histamine levels so you can pick the best option to avoid these triggers.

Continue reading to get the lists below.

Probiotics With Low Histamine (lower risk of allergic reaction)

According to Fact vs. Fitness, these probiotics can have a lower risk of causing allergic reactions because of their low histamine levels:

  • Bifidobacterium bifidum
  • Bifidobacterium breve
  • Bifidobacterium infantis
  • Bifidobacterium lactis
  • Bifidobacterium longum
  • Lactobacillus gasseri
  • Lactobacillus paracasei
  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG
  • Lactobacillus salivarius
  • Saccharomyces boulardii 

Probiotics To Avoid Due To High Histamine) (higher risk of allergic reaction)

Healthline and Fact vs. Fitness warn against these probiotics that could contain histamine themselves or might trigger your body’s natural histamine production:

  • Lactobacillus buchneri
  • Lactobacillus bulgaricus
  • Lactobacillus casei
  • Lactobacillus delbrueckii
  • Lactobacillus helveticus 
  • Lactobacillus hilgardii
  • Streptococcus thermophilus

Probiotics With Neutral or Debated Histamine Status

The following might have neutral or a still debated histamine status, although these are also commonly found in many probiotic supplements:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus lactis
  • Lactobacillus reuteri

Still, aside from considering the probiotic strains, it’s also important to check the other ingredients in your probiotic strains. Some products actually contain potential allergens, including milk, soy, yeast, and gluten.

You can find my recommendations below for the probiotic supplements certified to be free from allergens.

Related: Collagen for Gut Health Guide

The 5 Best Allergen-free Probiotic Supplements

For reduced risk of getting rash and itchy skin due to allergies, it’s a good idea to pick any of the following allergen-free probiotic supplements:

1. Probiology Gut+

These are the probiotic strains in Probiology Gut+ (40 billion CFUs or colony-forming units):

  • Bifidobacterium lactis (low histamine)
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus (histamine neutral)
  • Lactobacillus plantarum (low histamine)
  • Lactobacillus paracasei (low histamine)

This probiotic supplement is also the ideal choice because it is certified to be free from the following common allergens:

  • Dairy
  • Soy
  • Gluten 

2. Bauer Nutrition Biotics 8

A blend specially formulated for me, Bauer Nutrition Biotics 8 (20 billion CFUs) contains the following probiotic strains:

  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus (low histamine)
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus (histamine neutral) 
  • Lactobacillus paracasei (low histamine)
  • Lactobacillus plantarum (low histamine)
  • Lactobacillus fermentum (unsure)
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum (low histamine)
  • Bifidobacterium longum (low histamine)
  • Bifidobacterium breve (low histamine)
  • Saccharomyces boulardii (low histamine)

Although it contains Lactobacillus casei, a high-histamine probiotic, the rest of the stains are mostly low or neutral histamine.

3. Whole Earth & Sea Whole Food Synbiotic

Whole Earth & Sea Whole Food Synbiotic (10 billion CFUs) contains the following probiotic strains:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus (histamine neutral) 
  • Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus (low histamine)
  • Lactiplantibacillus plantarum (low histamine)
  • Bifidobacterium lactis (low histamine)
  • Ligilactobacillus salivarius (low histamine)
  • Bifidobacterium longum (low histamine)
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum (low histamine)

It does contain the following high-histamine probiotics, so it’s best to exercise caution when picking this probiotic supplement:

  • Lacticaseibacillus casei
  • Streptococcus thermophilus
  • Lactobacillus bulgaricus

The good news is that it’s certified to be free from allergens like:

  • Soy
  • Gluten
  • Dairy 

4. Garden of Life, Dr. Formulated Probiotics Fitbiotic

A raw probiotic formula, Garden of Life, Dr. Formulated Probiotics Fitbiotic (50 billion CFUs) contains the following probiotic strains:

  • Lactobacillus gasseri (low histamine)
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus (histamine neutral) 
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus (low histamine)
  • Lactobacillus paracasei (low histamine)
  • Lactobacillus plantarum (low histamine)
  • Lactobacillus salivarius (low histamine)
  • Bifidobacterium lactis (low histamine)
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum (low histamine)
  • Bifidobacterium breve (low histamine)
  • Bifidobacterium infantis (low histamine)
  • Bifidobacterium longum (low histamine)

Note that this probiotic supplement contains the following high-histamine strains:

  • Lactobacillus brevis
  • Lactobacillus casei
  • Lactobacillus bulgaricus

The good news is that it’s certified to be free from potential allergens like:

  • Dairy
  • Soy
  • Gluten

5. Essential-Biotic COMPLETE High-Potency Broad-Spectrum Probiotic

Essential-Biotic COMPLETE High-Potency Broad-Spectrum Probiotic (50 billion CFUs) contains the following strains:

  • Lactobacillus plantarum UALp-05 (low histamine)
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS-1 (histamine neutral) 
  • Bifidobacterium lactis UABla-12 (low histamine)
  • Lactobacillus paracasei UALpc-04 (low histamine)
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus UALr-18 (low histamine)
  • Bifidobacterium breve UABbr-11 (low histamine)
  • Lactobacillus salivarius UALs-07 (low histamine)
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum UABb-10 (low histamine)
  • Bifidobacterium longum UABl-14 (low histamine)

Still, it contains these three strains:

  • Lactobacillus casei UALc-03 (high histamine)
  • Streptococcus thermophilus UASt-09 (high histamine)
  • Lactococcus lactis UALl-08 (unsure)

This is also a hypoallergenic probiotic supplement that’s free from dairy and gluten.


Can Probiotics Cause Rash In Babies?

Although a very serious allergic reaction to probiotics is rare, it’s still possible that it can cause a rash in some babies.

If your baby develops a rash, itching or swelling, and trouble breathing, be sure to rush them to the hospital or call emergency services. These can be signs of a serious allergy attack.

How Long Does It Take For Probiotics To Work For Skin?

Another 2015 review of different studies using probiotics showed that patients could experience significant improvement from acne and other skin conditions after 4 weeks. Continued improvement was seen as the test subjects completed the 12-week treatment course.

A separate study mentioned in this review showed as much as 50% improvement of acne symptoms after 8 weeks of using Enterococcus fecalis lotion.

Marked improvement from UV-induced photodamage was also seen in study subjects taking Lactobacillus johnsonii for 10 weeks, as shown in the same review.

Do Probiotics Cause Diaper Rash?

No. On the contrary, studies show that probiotics can help alleviate the symptoms of diaper rash.

Researchers in a 2019 study found that skin probiotics (Staphylococcus epidermidis), as well as intestinal probiotic bacteria (Bifidobacterium Longum, Lactobacillus ruminis, and Clostridium butyricum), were significantly lower in babies with diaper rash than healthy infants.

They believe that increasing these probiotic levels through supplementation could help restore the microbiota balance and treat diaper rash.

Can Probiotics Cause an Itchy Scalp?

The scalp is similar to the skin, so probiotics could also have similar effects. 

While there’s limited research using probiotics and their effect on hair, a 2013 study showed that probiotic yogurt and Lactobacillus reuteri might induce a “glow of health” and improve your scalp as well as hair health.

Can Probiotics Cause Genital Itching?

When present in the right quantities, probiotics check the balance of the good and bad microorganisms in your normal flora. However, low or high quantities of probiotics, especially Lactobacillus, can lead to genital itching.

Low levels of Lactobacillus can lead to Candida overgrowth or yeast infection. That can cause genital itching. 

The good news is that probiotic intake can increase the Lactobacillus levels to help treat and prevent the recurrence of yeast infections, as shown in the 2020 clinical trial and K Health mentioned above.

Still, be careful with taking probiotics because too much Lactobacillus can also cause genital itching, called cytolytic vaginosis also explained above.

Although it isn’t an infection, it can still be uncomfortable and painful.

Wrap up

So if you’re experiencing an itchy rash after taking probiotics, it could be that the strain of probiotics you’re taking is producing histamine.

Not all probiotic strains are created equal – some can actually produce histamine, which can trigger a range of unpleasant symptoms. So if you’re noticing any unusual reactions after starting a probiotic supplement, talk to your doctor about other options that might work better for you.

In conclusion, probiotics can be a powerful tool for improving your health, but it’s important to approach them with caution and knowledge.

As someone who has experienced the benefits and risks firsthand, I can attest to the importance of finding the right strains and dosages for your body. By doing your research, consulting with a healthcare professional, and listening to your body, you can harness the power of probiotics to boost your immune system, improve your gut health, and potentially even treat skin conditions

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