Ask the Pharmacist: Save your skin with probiotics

Suzy Cohen
Americans spend billions of dollars on skin-care products each year in the hopes these products will help keep their skin looking young and healthy. The skin-care market has been growing steadily for years, and global sales are projected to reach $183 billion by 2025, according to an analysis by Report Buyer, a marketing research company. […]

Radiant skin is something many people seek, and it’s a universal indicator of your true health status on the inside. Today’s focus is on the little microorganisms too small to see with the naked eye. Some are the good guys, some are the bad ones that lead to infection, inflammation and redness, itching and more!

When we hear the term probiotic, we immediately think of a dietary supplement that helps with digestion, constipation, diarrhea, reflux or belching. When the balance tilts between the good and bad bacteria, and the bad ones take up residence in your gut, it is termed dysbiosis. It leads to intestinal permeability such that food proteins from gluten and dairy suddenly leak out into your blood stream, triggering food sensitivities and digestive discomfort. As a result, autoimmune flare ups occur more frequently.

We never think of probiotics for our skin, or for that matter, our face! Starting today, think of probiotics (aka “gut bugs”) as friendly organisms that save your skin, reduce inflammation and redness, heal pimples and improve skin texture. The role of probiotics for skin health is emerging as one of the most valuable considerations, especially for immune driven skin conditions like rosacea, psoriasis and eczema.

People will buy, and try anything that sounds good, often spending a lot of money on external products. For example, special medicated cleansers, harsh exfoliating scrubs, drying masks, and all sorts of medications. Because we wear face masks nowadays due to COVID, more people are developing skin irritations, pustules and pimples around the nose and mouth.

Driving out the pathogenic organisms, and adding more healthy probiotics to your diet can improve your skin, faster than anything you apply to your face. While topical products are good, they are only temporary. There are three important strains that support gut health, as well as skin health:

  • Lactobacillus plantarum: Helps with skin hydration and protection from UV light.
  • Lactobacillus Reuteri: Studies have shown that this strain is a very strong anti-inflammatory and able to reduce levels of TNF, helping with rosacea and acne.
  • Lactobacillus Rhamnosus: One of the most widely used probiotic strains, this positively alters gene expression to improve insulin signaling, and this improves acne and autoimmune skin disorders.

If you spend a little time reviewing the scientific literature and reading about it, you’ll soon agree that therapy with probiotics holds great potential the treatment of various stubborn skin diseases including, but not limited to, eczema, atopic dermatitis, allergic skin reactions, rosacea, sun damage and wounds in general. If you’d like to read the longer version of this article, and find out more about these probiotic strains (all available at health food stores), sign up for my weekly newsletter at

One last thought, if you’re thinking about eating yogurt to replenish your microflora, don’t bother. Those advertised “live, active cultures” that you see on the tub of your favorite brand are heat-treated and processed. At that point, they are no longer useful or viable, so they won’t treat any kind of skin condition.

More:Ask the Pharmacist: How BPC 157 helps tendons and your tummy

And:Ask the Pharmacist: Autoimmune disorders and infection risk

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Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Visit