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Can Poor Gut Health Cause Acne (How To Help Skin)

Trying to figure out why your skin is not cooperating? Wondering if your gut health could be part of the problem? Your gut microbiome plays a key role in skin health. Understanding the role the digestive system plays in this can help your skin issues and help you understand the question can poor gut health cause acne. This in turn can create a more secure you.

can digestive health cause acne

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No one wants to have to deal with acne. It can make one feel self-conscious to expose that part of the body. When it happens to be on the face, it is even more difficult to deal with.

You may even rapidly begin trying anything and everything in hopes to get rid of it. Many of these things consist of creams and quick remedies holding the promise to solve your skin dilemma.

What I have learned dealing with a daughter plagued with a bad spout of acne during her mid-teens is that finding the underlying remedy can be quite the journey.

However, fixing poor gut health allows for healthy skin to flourish. We found this to be true and know that when gut flora is out of whack, acne vulgaris takes its opportunity to show itself. We have learned what to look for and steps to take to stop gut dysbiosis from getting out of control.

This post answers the question can poor gut health

cause acne and what you should do about it.

Can Poor Gut Health Cause Acne?

Yes, an unhealthy gut can cause acne. The health of your gut can indicate how the rest of your body will look, react, and feel. Topical treatments can stop the development of acne and give you clearer skin. However, depending on the root cause of the acne, this can be a temporary fix.

There are different reasons that acne occurs. If you deal with cystic acne, persistent reoccuring acne or other skin problems, then you should look deeper into the gut-skin axis (the connection between the stomach microbiome and skin microbiome).

What is the gut microbiome?

The gut microbiome is diverse and complex. It is comprised of trillions of microscopic organisms called microbiota. These organisms consist of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and so on that all are in balance and function well when a person is in a healthy state.

Additionally, the microbiota perform important functions such as the breaking down of food and compounds, the synthesizing of vitamins, it stimulates the immune system and protects against pathogens. Overall, it is important that the gut microbiome is healthy for it to prevent disease, sickness and other ailments such as cystic acne.

Importance of The Gut-Skin Axis

What is the Gut-Skin Axis?

This article defines the gut-skin axis well below.

The gut-skin axis refers to the bidirectional relationship between the gut microbiome and skin health.

Why is it important?

The gut communicates with the skin and tells it how to react according to of your gut's state of health health in a sense. When the gut microbiome is not working correctly, the skin may react with inflammatory disorders such as eczema, psoriasis or acne.

If this is the case, one needs to try and get the gut bacteria in balance in the digestive tract again. This involves figuring out the root cause. The dysregulation of the gut microbiome is a consequence of the body being compromised. 

Signs You have poor gut health

  • Persistent, reoccurant, or cystic acne
  • Moodiness or frequent mood swings
  • Depression and/or anxiety
  • Bloating, constipation, or stomach pain
  • Skin rashes and skin inflammation
  • Extreme and ongoing fatigue
  • Food allergies or food sensitivites
  • Yeast Infections

How Poor Gut Health Causes Acne

Leaky Gut Syndrome

The gut lining of the intestines forms a barrier keeping unwanted compounds from entering the bloodstream. When this barrier is weakened or compromised, unwanted toxins, food partcicles and bacteria and fungi are able to enter the bloodstream. This happens through holes in the stomach lining as they pass through the gastrointestinal tract.

In turn, this can cause systemic inflammation (chronic inflammation) in the body because the body is alarming itself that something is not working correctly. This inflammation is due to the body continually being in defense mode protecting itself from invaders. As a result this sytemtic inflammation, the skin can develop acne.

Chronic Stress

Stress takes a toll on the body. When the body doesn't work correctly, it goes into fight or flight" mode. The body is then constantly on alert and in defense mode. This becomes stressful on the body.

The stress can be from internal factors or external factors. Cortisol. the body's stress hormone, reduces the body's inflammation. If cortisol levels are costantly elevated, the skin becomes compromised and acne can occur as a result.

Food Allergies or Food Sensitivities

Food Allergies is another problem that can trigger an inflammatory response causing acne. The body begins to react inappropriately to a range of foods that may not have originally been problematic. However, the body's enzyme production may be compromised because this is another job of the gut microbiota.

There are a wide range of food sensitivities that may cause inflammatory skin conditions. These differ depending on your gut microbiome and immune system. However, common known ones are dairy, gluten, corn, soy, nuts, or seafood. This can be due to DNA triggers or environmental toxis within the food.


Histamines also can play a significant role when it comes to trying to clear skin up. When a person has digestive issues, he or she may have difficulty breaking down and absorbing histamine properly in the stomach.

Deficiency in the enzyme DAO (diamine oxidase) is believed to cause this problem. DAO is the enzyme responsible for breaking down histamine. Therefore, acne can be a symptom that is developed.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Nutritional deficiencies can also cause problems with acne developing on the skin. Although this is debated to what extent, being deficient in certain nutrients may influence the health of the skin. If skin is dry, irritated or out of balance, it creates an environment for harmful bacteria to develop on the skin causing acne.

Vitamin A Deficiency

Impaired Immunity

Skin Problems

Possible Symptom: Acne

Candida Overgrowth or SIBO

Another root cause of the acne could be Candia or SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). Candida is a fungal yeast infection. SIBO is the buildup of bacteria in the small intestine. Both of these conditons have the ptoential to cause problems with acne.

The balance of good bacteria and potentially harmful bacteria are out of whack when Candida or SIBO occur. This could be for reasons such as too much antibiotic use, an H. Pylori infection, environmental factors, and so on. Whatever the reason, the gut is sensitve and overreactive which can cause skin problems and other overall health issues.

What to do?

Balancing the Gut is what is needed to begin healing and getting rid of your acne problem. However, getting to the root cause is what is needed to more permanently solve this issue.

One may continue to be susceptible to digestion problems coming back. This also may be due the the makup of their gut microbiome. Therefore, one will need to be conscientious of their stress level, diet and environmental triggers.

Solutions For healing Gut health

Trigger Journal

Keeping a journal of what you eat and summarizing activities for the day are helpful. In doing this you would also track your symptoms and when they occur. This allows for you to check for patterns. Remember, sometimes symptoms do not occur for 2-3 days after a trigger occurs.

I love this idea and think it is extremely helpful. It is often a difficult task for many to do regularly, but I know it has been helpful to family members of mine. We have been able to identify triggers and deal with them accordingly.

Elimination Diet

An elimination diet consists of taking things out of the diet for a certain amount of time. You then watch to see if your body reacts positively or negatively to the change. You would want to journal this as well, and only start with one item at a time or category of food, for instance, dairy. Another food would be taken out after tracking the first food.

AVOID sugar

Sugar can aggregate problems in the gut further. Additonally, sugar does not contribute anything to the diet that is beneficial to your health. It can trigger many health problems, so avoiding it is best.

Another helpful item to add into your dietary routine are enzymes. It is most helpful if you have the help of a doctor or are aware of what you have most difficulty digesting.

Signs may include constipation, bloating, upset stomach, abdominal pain, etc. There are enzymes for overall digestion, problems for digesting fat, and so on. The one linked above is the brand we use.

Taking a DAO enzyme supplement can also be beneficial if you need help breaking down and properly absorbing histamines.

Additionally, there are supplements like this that are great to use when it comes to helping with histamine symptoms. I use histamine supplements myself and do not go without them.

Boric acid is another great supplement for those that suffer from SIBO or Candida frequently. This is safe and effective and can really help relieve symptoms of these conditions. A must to try out for anyone dealing with reoccuring yeast infections.

Probiotics are a great way to add beneficial bacteria and can have a significant impact on the gut. However, people vary in their probiotic needs. You may need to try out different strains to get the right balance for you. 

If you suffer from problems with histamines, you will want to avoid probiotics or only take the one like that above that is designed for a histamine imbalance.

This post dealt with the question can poor gut health

cause acne and what you should do about it.


  1. Hills RD Jr, Pontefract BA, Mishcon HR, Black CA, Sutton SC, Theberge CR. Gut Microbiome: Profound Implications for Diet and Disease. Nutrients. 2019 Jul 16;11(7):1613. doi: 10.3390/nu11071613. PMID: 31315227; PMCID: PMC6682904.
  2. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/microbiome/
  3. Thye AY, Bah YR, Law JW, Tan LT, He YW, Wong SH, Thurairajasingam S, Chan KG, Lee LH, Letchumanan V. Gut-Skin Axis: Unravelling the Connection between the Gut Microbiome and Psoriasis. Biomedicines. 2022 Apr 30;10(5):1037. doi: 10.3390/biomedicines10051037. PMID: 35625774; PMCID: PMC9138548.
  4. Schnedl WJ, Enko D. Histamine Intolerance Originates in the Gut. Nutrients. 2021 Apr 12;13(4):1262. doi: 10.3390/nu13041262. PMID: 33921522; PMCID: PMC8069563.

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