Our skin is the largest organ of the body and our first line of defence against the outside world. Because of its constant exposure to internal and external elements, there are many factors which can compromise skin health. Eczema (atopic dermatitis) and acne are two common skin conditions that affect a large proportion of the population. In Australia, 1 in 3 children and over 1 million people suffer from eczema1 and over 85% of Australians aged 15-24 are affected by acne2. These skin problems can impact on daily life in many ways for both sufferers and their families. Society’s preoccupation with having glowing, clearer, healthier skin can make it even more distressing, especially since these conditions often present in childhood and adolescence when self-esteem is developing.
Despite their prevalence, both conditions can be hard to manage and what works for one person may not work for another. There is a growing body of evidence that probiotics play an important role in skin health.
What is eczema?
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition characterised by inflamed skin, intense itching and weeping skin lesions. It is an inherited allergic condition that usually appears in early childhood. Eczema arises because of a combination of genetic and environmental factors.3 A person with eczema is unable to repair skin damage effectively. This makes the skin very dry and allows environmental allergens (irritants) to enter the skin and activate the immune system, causing inflammation that makes the skin red and very itchy. Eczema can be triggered by a number of factors from environmental irritants such as tobacco smoke, chemicals, the weather and air-conditioning to allergens like dust mites, molds, grasses, soap and shampoo.4 Certain foods can trigger eczema in some people and stress may also be implicated.4
Eczema severity can vary, and symptoms may flare-up or ease from day to day. It can put a significant strain on sufferers and their families with itching causing sleepless nights and flare-ups leading to missing school, work or activities. It can also be costly trying to find the right treatment to manage symptoms.
How can probiotics help with eczema?
Probiotics may be helpful in the prevention and management of eczema through their role in modulating the immune and inflammatory response.5 Research shows that specially selected probiotic strains may be beneficial for eczema. When given to pregnant and breastfeeding women, Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium animalis can help to reduce the frequency and severity of eczema in their infants.6 In a study on young children, 8 weeks of treatment with Lactobacillus rhamnosus was effective in reducing the intensity of eczema symptoms.7 Probiotics may be especially beneficial for eczema when combined with vitamin D, since lower vitamin D levels are associated with increased incidence and severity of eczema symptoms.8 When sun exposure is limited, a specialised probiotic and vitamin D combination like Inner Health Skin Shield and Inner Health Eczema Shield Kids may help reduce the occurrence of eczema symptoms, relieve symptoms of mild eczema such as itching and support skin health, healing and repair.
What is acne?
Acne is a common skin condition characterised by pimples, blackheads, whiteheads and cysts that typically appears in the teenage years but may persist well beyond this time in some people. Acne occurs when a hair follicle and its oil (sebaceous) gland become blocked creating an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, which cause the skin to become red, inflamed and irritated.2 During puberty, androgen hormones cause the oil glands in the skin of the face, chest, neck, back and shoulders to enlarge and produce more oil (sebum), which makes the skin more susceptible to acne.9 Even mild acne can damage self-esteem and confidence.
How can probiotics help with acne?
Research shows that probiotics may play a role in reducing the incidence of acne. The gut microbiome not only affects digestive health but has far-reaching effects around the body, including on skin health. Gut microbes may influence the skin by improving gut microbiome balance, inhibiting the growth of pathogenic bacteria and helping modulate the inflammatory response.10 Taking probiotics in combination with vitamin D may be especially effective for restoring skin balance, since people with acne are more likely to be vitamin D deficient than those without acne.11 Vitamin D levels also appear to be directly associated with the severity of acne symptoms.11
Inner Health Skin Shield provides specially selected probiotics in combination with vitamin D to help reduce the occurrence of acne symptoms and support skin healing and repair, when sun exposure is limited. All in a convenient one-a-day dose.
- Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia, 2018, Atopic eczema management: It’s hard to get consistent information, viewed 7 February 2023, https://allergyfacts.org.au/images/docs/Atopic-Eczema-Management.pdf
- Skin Health Institute, 2017, Acne, viewed 7 February 2023, < https://www.skinhealthinstitute.org.au/page/89/acne>
- Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia, 2022, Managing atopic dermatitis (eczema), viewed 7 February 2023, <https://allergyfacts.org.au/images/resources/brochures/Managing-Atopic-Dermatitis-Eczema-Brochure-2022.pdf>
- Eczema Association Australasia, 2022, Facts about eczema, viewed 7 February 2023, < https://www.eczema.org.au/eczema-facts/>
- Rather I et al, 2016, ‘Probiotics and Atopic Dermatitis: An Overview’, Front Microbiol, vol 12, no 7, p507
- Marlow G at al, 2015, ‘Differential effects of two probiotics on the risks of eczema and atopy associated with single nucleotide polymorphisms to Toll-like receptors’, Pediatr Allergy Immunol, vol 26, no 3, pp 262-271.
- Wu YJ, 2017, ‘Evaluation of efficacy and safety of Lactobacillus rhamnosusin children aged 4–48 months with atopic dermatitis: An 8-week, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study’, J Microbiol Immunol Infect, vol 50, no 5, pp 684-692
- Palmer DJ, 2015, ‘Vitamin D and the Development of Atopic Eczema’. J Clin Med, vol 4, no 5, pp1036-50
- Better Health Channel, 2022, Acne, viewed 7 February 2023, < https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/acne>
- Rinaldi F et al, 2022, ‘Facial acne: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Study on the clinical efficacy of a symbiotic dietary supplement, Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). Vol 12, no 2, pp577-589
- Lim SK et al, 2016, ‘Comparison of vitamin D levels in patients with and without acne: a case-control study combined with a randomized controlled trial’, PLoS One, vol 1, no 8