Last updated November 17, 2019 by Lisa Richards, CNC   Reviewed by Katie Stone, ND.

Candida And Acne: The Gut-Skin Connection

Acne and Candida are often related

Got acne? A Candida overgrowth in your gut could be connected. Acne and Candida share many of the same causes, and a yeast overgrowth can cause chronic inflammation that could be contributing to your acne.

Your skin is your body’s largest organ, and the health of your skin is often a reflection of the foods, medicines, and other substances that you put into your body. This is what dermatologists mean when they refer to “the gut-skin connection”.

What is the Gut-Skin Connection?

Acne is one of the world’s most common skin disorders – and an unpleasant one at that. Many teenagers suffer from acne during their high school years, and it’s also common among adults. Acne can take a huge toll on a person’s confidence.

In trying to find an effective treatment for acne, researchers have found that there is a clear link between gut issues and skin problems. Gut imbalances like Candida overgrowth are one of the root causes of acne.

This is largely due to increased intestinal permeability – also known as ‘leaky gut’. Leaky gut occurs when toxins leak from the gut into the bloodstream, causing both systemic and local inflammation. This in turn can lead to skin problems.

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Studies have shown that patients with acne have higher levels of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) endotoxins in their blood, and react to certain bacterial strains that people without acne don’t. This suggests that those with acne also suffer from increased intestinal permeability. (1)

More recent research has shed more light on this finding. It appears that both gut microbiota and probiotics can go a long way in reducing the inflammation, blood sugar balance, oxidative stress and emotions linked to acne. It’s now believed that management of the intestinal microflora could hold significant potential for treating acne. (2)

Antibiotics And Acne

Antibiotics are also a major contributor to acne problems. Antibiotics such as Tetracycline are often prescribed for those with serious acne, with the intention of treating the bacteria causing the acne. Long term, however, this may do more harm than good.

Antibiotics wipe out both healthy and unhealthy populations of bacteria the gut. While this is effective in treating acute bacterial infections, it’s catastrophic for the body’s immune system.

Seventy percent of your immune cells are located in the lining of your gut, and kept in check by your ‘good’ gut bacteria. When weakened by antibiotics, the immune cells unable to fight off invading pathogens. (3)

Not only that, but those antibiotics will not kill viruses or yeast cells. Antibiotics can create an opportunity for pathogens like Candida albicans to grow and spread throughout the gut, wreaking havoc on the digestive system – and your skin.  (4)

It is generally acknowledged that using antibiotics to treat acne is therefore not always the best option, especially in the long-term. (5)

Birth Control And Acne

For women, another method for treating acne is to take birth control, which is prescribed by your doctor. Birth control – aka ‘the pill’ – works by suppressing androgens, the male hormones linked to acne. (6)

Androgens can cause the body to release sebum, the oil that gets trapped in pores and results in a bacteria inflammation that leads to acne. By suppressing androgens, oil production decreases and acne clears up.

Unfortunately, the birth control pill is also associated with an increased risk of Candida overgrowth. Researchers have found that women using the pill are significantly more likely to end up with vaginal yeast infections, oral thrush, and other forms of Candida overgrowth. (7, 8)

This is thought to be because the estrogen in birth control pills can cause the body to produce more sugars in the vagina. These sugars then feed the normal yeast living in the vagina, causing Candida to proliferate.

Poor Diet And Acne

As you’re likely to be aware, diet is one of the most important contributors to Candida. Candida yeast thrives on sugar, and eating too much will allow yeast in the gut to grow and spread.

Acne, of course, is also linked to diet. Eating large amounts of sugar can lead to all sorts of problems with your body’s blood sugar levels. Spikes in blood sugar contribute to inflammation, which in turn can lead to acne breakouts. (9)

Excess blood sugar can also reduce the amount of collagen in your cells. Collagen is essential for the healthy repair of damaged skin, as well as keeping it supple.

How To Improve The Health Of Your Skin And Your Gut

A few simple lifestyle changes can make all the difference to your acne – and your Candida.

  1. Take a High-Quality Probiotic
    If you’ve taken antibiotics in the past, it’s essential to follow up with a course of probiotics. Probiotics help to restore the ‘good’ gut bacteria that keep your digestive system healthy. Probiotics also help to reverse ‘leaky gut’ by allowing healthy cells to repair the intestinal lining. In fact, studies show that probiotics may be an effective way to treat acne and keep it at bay. (10) The best probiotic for Candida and general gut health is the Balance ONE Probiotic. You can read more about it here.
  2. Get Off The Sugar
    Cut back on sugary foods and drinks. Sugar is a leading cause of the inflammation that causes skin problems, as well as Candida overgrowth. Especially avoid refined sugars and starches.
  3. Use Natural Alternatives to Antibiotics
    While antibiotics are useful for treating real bacterial infections, they’re not always necessary. There are many natural antimicrobial solutions to help reduce bad bacteria AND yeast populations in the gut, such as garlic, oregano oil, and caprylic acid. These herbs are generally safe and well-tolerated, and aren’t associated with the same digestive side effects often seen from antibiotics.
  4. Stay Hydrated
    Drinking plenty of water every day is one of the best ways to flush out the toxins that contribute to skin problems. Hydration helps to keep your body’s detoxification pathways functioning effectively, keeping your skin fresh and clean on the inside.

Acne And Candida: Breaking the Connection

Understanding that your gut is linked to your skin is the first step in reducing your acne problems.

While it’s impossible to see inside your gut, it is possible to see the effect an unhealthy gut has on your skin.

Start treating your acne by treating your insides – with a healthy diet, probiotics, and natural antibacterial supplements. And keep off the sugar by following a low-carbohydrate diet like the Candida diet. The results will be better digestion and clearer skin.

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