The connection between the Gut and Skin Conditions (The Gut-Skin Axis)

Dr. Tasreen Alibhai, N.D.
Dr. Tasreen Alibhai

Skin conditions are the one of the most common conditions seen by doctors. Recent clinical research has highlighted a possible link between the gut and skin health: commonly called the gut-skin axis.

The human microbiome is at the center of the gut-skin axis. The human microbiome is a a diverse milieu of microorganisms including bacteria, viruses, fungi and archae communities living in and on us. This includes the skin and the gut. The gut microbiome has the largest amount of bacteria, approximately 100 trillion resident bacteria (2)

The skin, our body’s largest organ, is also colonized by microorganisms including bacteria, fungi and viruses. Many are beneficial for our skin health. Skin cells and ducts are regularly colonized by commensal bacteria that are typically harmless. The most abundant organisms found were Propionibacteria (32%), Streptococcus (17%), including coagulase-negative staphylococci (8%) non-pathogenic corynebacterial (4%) ,cutibacteria and Lactobacillus (3%) (1) (2) Colonization by Cutibacterium acnes is involved in the comedones and pustules commonly seen in Acne. (1)

Fungi have also been identified on the skin including Malassezia, Penicillium, Aspergillus and Candida (2)
Studies have found a link between the gut microbiome and Atopic Dermatitis including Eczema. In one study, children and young adults with Atopic dermatitis had significantly lower concentrations of Bifidobacteria in their gut compared to controls. (3)

The gut microbiome may play a role in improving the skin microbiome. Short chain fatty acids are the end products of fermentation produced in the gut by bacteria. These SCFA’s affect the microbial composition of the skin towards a more favorable skin flora. (4) Metabolic end products from gut bacteria may affect skin hydration, keratinization and the integrity of the skin barrier. In this way, the gut microbiome communicates with the skin microbiome and may influence the development of skin conditions such as eczema and acne (5)

Based on clinical research, optimizing the gut microbiome and supporting the growth of beneficial bacteria may be a viable treatment option for skin conditions such as Atopic Dermatitis, Eczema and Acne. Probiotics may be beneficial in reducing inflammation and improving skin conditions such as Acne.

Skin conditions are influenced by many factors including the gut microbiome, diet, hormones, stress, environment and genetics. Balancing the gut microbiome and treating bacterial or fungal infections may be helpful in treating these skin conditions.

Tests available at Vitalia Health Care include a Comprehensive Stool Test and testing for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. These tests provide information on the gut microbiome and may be beneficial as a treatment option for skin conditions.

Please do also check out a previous article on dietary suggestions that may help with Acne

With winter months approaching and holiday season just around the corner, this is a great time to take care of our skin. Vitalia Health Care offers Naturopathic Medicine and Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy. Book with one of our Naturopathic Doctors to discuss your skin health concerns and treatment options available.

Wishing you a safe and wonderful holiday season.

Yours in health,
Dr Tasreen Alibhai, ND