Can Bad Gut Health Cause Acne? Signs & Symptoms!


Acne is a common skin condition that affects people of all ages. It is characterized by pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, and inflamed red lesions that can occur on the face, back, chest, and shoulders. While the exact cause of acne is unknown, there are many factors that can contribute to its development including hormones, genetics, diet, stress, and more. 

Recently, there has been increasing interest in the link between gut health and skin conditions like acne. The gut microbiome – the trillions of microorganisms that live in our intestines – plays an important role in our overall health.

An imbalance in gut bacteria is thought to contribute to inflammation in the body which can manifest as skin problems. This article will explore the connection between gut health and acne, and provide tips on improving gut health naturally to reduce acne symptoms.

How Can Bad Gut Health Cause Acne?

There are a few ways in which poor gut health can trigger acne:

Inflammation – When the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut gets disrupted, it can lead to inflammation throughout the body. This systemic inflammation can then exacerbate inflammatory skin conditions like acne. 

Toxins & hormones – When gut health declines, the intestines have a harder time eliminating toxins and waste products from the body. These accumulated toxins can trigger hormonal imbalances which lead to increased oil production and clogged pores.

Leaky gut syndrome – This refers to increased intestinal permeability where bacteria and toxins leak out from the intestines into the bloodstream. This triggers widespread inflammation and autoimmune reactions that can manifest as acne.

Candida overgrowth – Candida is a yeast that normally lives in the gut. When it starts to multiply out of control, candida overgrowth occurs. This leads to the release of waste products and inflammatory byproducts into the body, causing acne.

Nutrient deficiencies – Poor nutrient absorption caused by compromised gut health can lead to deficiencies in vitamins and minerals needed for healthy skin like zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin D.

Signs & Symptoms Of Bad Gut That Causes Acne 

There are several common signs indicating your gut health may be contributing to acne breakouts:

Signs & Symptoms Of Bad Gut That Causes Acne 

1. Digestive issues – Symptoms like bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain can signal an imbalance of gut bacteria. These issues reflect that the gut microbiome is unhealthy.

2. Food sensitivities – Developing new intolerances or allergies to certain foods like dairy, gluten, eggs, and soy may indicate gut inflammation. The inflamed gut lining allows undigested proteins to enter circulation.

3. Nutrient deficiencies – As mentioned earlier, vitamin and mineral deficiencies caused by poor nutrient absorption can manifest as acne. Deficiency signs include hair loss, pale skin, fatigue and weakened immunity.

4. Skin conditions – In addition to acne, some other inflammatory skin problems associated with gut issues include psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema. Rashes, itchiness, and redness reflect inflammation.  

5. Mood disorders – A unhealthy gut microbiome can trigger inflammation that affects mental health and contributes to anxiety, depression, and poor sleep – which can worsen acne.

6. Autoimmune disease – Compromised intestinal barriers allow proteins to enter the bloodstream triggering autoimmune reactions. Autoimmunity is linked to skin problems.

7. Cravings & aversion to certain foods – If certain foods suddenly start causing symptoms, it indicates gut sensitivity and inflammation. The gut microbiome is communicating through cravings and aversions.

8. Joint pain or arthritis – Chronic inflammation from a leaky gut can manifest as joint pain or arthritis. The gut-skin-joint connection stems from systemic inflammation.

9. Fatigue & brain fog – Chronic fatigue and inability to focus or think clearly can arise when the body is dealing with a gut imbalance that causes widespread inflammation. 

Natural Remedies To Improve Gut Health That Causes Acne

There are many effective natural ways to improve your gut health and restore balance to the gut microbiome which can help alleviate acne:

1. Take probiotic supplements

Probiotics contain beneficial live bacteria that can help repopulate your microbiome with acne-fighting microbes like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains. Look for probiotic supplements with a diverse range of probiotic strains and at least 10 billion CFUs. Stick to brands that use prebiotics as well to help probiotics colonize. 

2. Eat probiotic-rich foods 

Incorporate more natural probiotic foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, miso, tempeh, and apple cider vinegar into your diet. The nutrients and enzymes in fermented foods help nourish gut bacteria. But start slowly if your gut is sensitive.

3. Increase prebiotic fiber intake  

Prebiotic fibers like inulin, Jerusalem artichoke, dandelion greens, garlic, onion, leeks, and asparagus provide fuel for probiotics to thrive. Aim for 38g to 64g of prebiotic fiber daily. Increase fiber intake gradually to avoid bloating. 

4. Treat yeast overgrowth if needed

If your acne is accompanied by other symptoms of candida overgrowth like fatigue or cravings for sugar, work on treating the overgrowth. Anti-candida supplements, herbs like oregano oil, caprylic acid, and pau d’arco can help kill excess yeast.

5. Eliminate foods that cause inflammation

Avoid common gut irritants like dairy, gluten, hydrogenated oil, eggs, and excess sugar. Limit intake of processed and fried foods. An elimination diet can help identify triggers. Reintroduce foods slowly while observing symptoms. 

6. Stay hydrated 

Drink plenty of water throughout the day to support detoxification and healthy bowel movements. Proper hydration helps flush out toxins and prevent constipation. 

7. Take anti-inflammatory supplements

Nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, turmeric, ginger, green tea, and resveratrol have anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe the gut lining. Quercetin, zinc, and magnesium also help reduce inflammation.

8. Manage stress 

Chronic stress produces inflammatory chemicals that alter gut flora. Adopt stress-relieving practices like meditation, yoga, exercise, and getting enough sleep. Consider counseling or therapy as well.

9. Improve digestion 

Improving sluggish digestion can prevent toxin buildup. Take digestive enzymes, apple cider vinegar, and bitter herbs like dandelion, milk thistle, and gentian root to stimulate digestion and liver function for detoxification.

10. Get dirty

Exposure to soil-based organisms and bacteria present in nature helps build immunity and strengthen the microbiome. So go for nature walks, garden, spend time with pets, visit farms, etc to get natural exposure.

Tips & Precautions To Improve Gut Health That Causes Acne

Here are some additional tips to improve gut health and reduce acne:

🔹 Consider doing an elimination diet under the guidance of a registered dietician or nutritionist to identify any food intolerances that may be causing inflammation. Reintroduce eliminated foods slowly.

🔹 Limit intake of refined carbohydrates and sugars which can negatively impact gut bacteria.

🔹 Stay away from unnecessary antibiotics which indiscriminately kill all bacteria, wiping out populations of beneficial bacteria in the process. 

🔹 If taking antibiotics is necessary, follow up with a course of probiotics to replenish gut flora. Eat yogurt and fermented foods as well.

🔹 While supplementing with probiotics, gradually increase the dosage over time for maximum benefits. Also, consume probiotics consistently. 

🔹 Incorporate gut-healing foods like bone broth, collagen peptides, and L-glutamine into your diet to repair the gut lining.

🔹 Manage constipation proactively as it allows toxins and yeast to flourish. Stay hydrated, exercise, and eat high-fiber foods.

🔹 Identify and avoid environmental toxins that may be disrupting your gut flora like mold, cigarette smoke, pollutants, and pesticides.

🔹 Let go of toxic relationships that are major sources of chronic stress. Make self-care and stress management a priority. 

🔹 Get checked for possible food sensitivities, leaky gut syndrome, candida overgrowth, and other gut health issues by your physician.

🔹 Be patient as repairing gut health and rebalancing your microbiome takes time. Follow a gut-healing protocol consistently for at least 3-6 months.


There is growing evidence supporting the link between gut health and acne. An imbalance of bacteria in your gastrointestinal system can trigger systemic inflammation which may worsen acne breakouts.

Symptoms like digestive issues, food intolerances, nutritional deficiencies, yeast overgrowth, and autoimmunity can signal your gut health is contributing to skin problems.

Thankfully, with a combination of probiotics, prebiotics, anti-inflammatory foods, and lifestyle changes, you can rebalance your gut microbiome which can gradually alleviate acne.

Work with a qualified practitioner and be patient when following a gut healing regimen for lasting results.

Related:- Is Chicken Good For Gut Health? Discover The Benefits Of Chicken For Your Gut


1. How long does it take to repair gut health and see improvement in acne?

It can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months of following a gut healing protocol to rebalance gut bacteria, heal inflammation and notice positive changes in acne symptoms. Have patience and be consistent.

2. What blood tests help identify gut issues causing acne? 

Relevant blood tests include a complete blood count, CRP, homocysteine, vitamin D, zinc, food sensitivities (IgG), Candida antibodies, and hormone profile. This help assesses inflammation, deficiencies, autoimmunity, etc.

3. Is probiotic supplementation enough to improve gut-related acne?

While probiotic supplements are important, they work best alongside prebiotics, anti-inflammatory foods, lifestyle changes, stress management, and treatment of underlying gut issues. A multifaceted approach works best.

4. Which probiotic strains are most beneficial for acne?

Strains from Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species like Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus brevis, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and Bifidobacterium longum are particularly helpful for acne-prone skin.

5. Can antibiotics prescribed for acne make gut issues and acne worse?

Yes, antibiotics kill both good and bad bacteria in the gut which can disrupt the microbiome balance further. They also make the skin more susceptible to yeast overgrowth. Probiotic supplements should be taken along with prescription antibiotics.

Dr. Jun Ren is a dedicated and experienced registered dietitian and nutritionist who is committed to helping people achieve their health goals through personalized nutrition plans. With a passion for promoting healthy eating habits and preventing chronic diseases, Dr. Ren has been able to assist numerous clients in improving their overall quality of life.

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