Can Adding Probiotics To My Diet Help Stop My Breakouts?

I’m on an acne-fighting mission, one experiment at a time.

Desperate times cause for desperate measures. In my fight to rid this breakout I've been battling since the end of spring, I'm willing to do whatever there is under the sun. I could easily just take my tale to the dermatologist, but I'm determined to solve this minor issue myself.

Since this breakout started, I've tried a few things to keep it under control: I started to double cleanse (no, I did not do so before); I started going days at a time without wearing makeup; and I even stopped eating dairy for a month (that vegan life is real). While these changes seemed to take my breakouts from severe to moderate, I'd like to bring them to a minimum. (Actually, I'd like them to be nonexistent, but baby steps.) My next experiment is probiotics. You all have probably read life-changing stories from people claiming that probiotics have helped healed their skin in many ways (this woman said it's the only thing that helped her 25-year battle with psoriasis).

Like most things, with many praises come a few horror stories. There are people in online forums claiming that probiotics has caused them cystic acne (ouch!) so of course I had to consult a professional before doing something that could potentially make my breakouts worse. Here's what dermatologist Dr. David Bank had to say about how gut-soothing bacteria could help my skin.

So, what exactly are probiotics? Is there a connection between the use of probiotic supplements and an improvement in your skin?

Probiotics are the “good,” or “beneficial,” bacteria that can help to regulate bacterial growth in the body. It is hard to say that there is a connection between probiotics and skin care, but some research shows that including probiotics in your diet, or taking probiotic supplements in addition to other treatments may help to control flares of acne, rosacea, and eczema. The use of probiotics is recommended for patients on long-term antibiotic use to regulate gut bacterial flora.

Can probiotics help someone whose acne is caused by dairy?

Acne caused by dairy is usually the effect of gut inflammation from the dairy products. Probiotics can benefit someone with this problem by reducing inflammation within the body and possibly on the skin. Although it’s not common knowledge, gut issues may influence your skin issues and because the gut is inflamed from the dairy, your skin can be inflamed as well.

Is there a recommended dosage for someone using probiotics to help with acne? And how soon should someone expect to see an improvement in her skin?

There is limited information available about the consumption or dosage amounts of probiotics especially in regards to acne. It is not considered a regular treatment. If one is using probiotics for abnormal gut flora, supplements once to twice daily are usually recommended and improvement can be seen within a few weeks.

How beneficial are probiotics when applied topically? Is there a difference between using probiotics that way compared with ingesting them?

Probiotics can be useful in normalizing the bacteria on the skin. This may be more significant in eczema as compared to acne. There shouldn’t be a big difference in the appearance of the acne because the probiotics’ effect on acne is not typically dramatic either topically or orally. Most people should not expect more than a subtle improvement.

Welp, I guess that probiotics aren’t exactly my miracle cure, but I’m still going to try it. I’ve only been taking Bio-K Plus Probiotics twice a day for about a week so far, and though I haven’t seen anything life-changing, I’ve noticed that I haven’t gotten any new noticeable breakouts (I usually get one to three new pimples a week). This could all be in my head, but if my mind is playing tricks on me in a positive way, I’ll take it.

Have any of you ever tried probiotics, either topically or as a supplement, to help your acne? What other acne-fighting supplements are you trying? Tell me everything!