Probiotics – helpful bacteria that protect the body from harmful bacteria – are everywhere in the media these days. In addition to yogurt, other sources of probiotics include kimchi and the tea beverage kombucha. For skin health, several studies have shown that probiotics may be beneficial for acne/rosacea, eczema, infections, and even anti-aging.
Probiotics have been shown to reduce inflammation (by preventing the body’s immune response to surface bacteria), thus reducing redness and lesion counts in these conditions.
Probiotics may help reduce the number of infections, particularly with MRSA (a harmful bacteria that lives on the skin) in people with eczema. Probiotics may also help increase the health of the skin barrier and reduce inflammation.
Studies are underway utilizing topical probiotics to help heal wounds. One study currently shows that a probiotic based gel is more effective than the current standard of care silver based dressing.
Ingestion of probiotics may help protect the skin against sun damage. A study found that mice supplemented with probiotics three times a week experienced less UV damage, and more hydrated skin than those who were not supplemented. Furthermore, the mice that were supplemented had more thick and lustrous fur.
For all of these conditions, the optimal doses of probiotics have not been defined. At our Minneapolis dermatology clinic, I counsel my patients: “A probiotic a day may help keep the dermatologist away!”