Poor intestinal health can lead to these common skin problems

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Millions of people around the world deal daily with skin blemishes like acne, eczema and rosacea. You could blame your skin condition for a hormonal imbalance – or perhaps you could point to a specific trigger, such as heat or drinking alcohol.

But according to Dr. Raj Kumar, a clinical professor of biochemistry at the University of Houston College of Medicine who specializes in the gastrointestinal tract, there are a number of different skin diseases that are actually a sign of poor intestinal health. Apparently there is a strong connection between your skin and your gut. Let us examine this further.

Your skin and gut have a relationship

Dr. Kumar says that both your skin and your gut are “essential” when it comes to the primary functions of your body. They are both important for the maintenance of physiological homeostasis, which is the body’s tendency to maintain critical physiological parameters such as blood pressure, blood sugar level and body temperature.

“Studies suggest an intimate, two-way connection between these two organs [skin and gut], ”Explained Dr. Kumar to MarthaStewart.com. “The human gut hosts microbiomes, which provide important metabolic and immune benefits to the host. These gut microbiomes communicate with the skin as one of the major regulators of the ‘gut-skin axis’.”

In other words, what happens in your gut directly affects your skin. This means that a disturbed gut can result in an abundance of inflammatory skin disorders.

Intestinal and acne flare-ups

Microorganisms in the gut can be the reason why many of us struggle with acne. Dr. Kumar explains that intestinal health has a major impact on “the pathophysiology of acne.” Which is a “skin disorder that occurs when your hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells.”

Is red, itchy skin a sign?

The gastrointestinal specialist also noted that atopic dermatitis – also called eczema – could be another sign of poor bowel health. If you are struggling with inflamed skin and over-the-counter medications do not give you any relief, says Dr. Kumar that it may be the result of a disturbed gut.

“An association between intestinal dysbiosis (a persistent imbalance in intestinal microbiomes) and atopic dermatitis has been demonstrated,” confirms Dr. Kumar.

Psoriasis and rosacea

Dr. Kumar also points to the intestine if your skin is more than red and itchy. He says the gut is to blame if you have scaly skin and that symptom may indicate that you are suffering from psoriasis.

The doctor pointed out that psoriasis has been linked to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which is a common intestinal disease. If you suffer from rosacea, which often shows up as red, swollen skin on the face, says Dr. Kumar that it may also be due to your gut.

“Changes in the intestinal microbiome have also been implicated in rosacea pathogenesis; it is a common skin condition that causes redness and visible blood vessels in the face,” he explains.

How to determine if your gut is to blame

Woman with uneven complexion touches her face
(Geinz Angelina / Shutterstock.com)

If you are dealing with chronic skin problems, there are ways to determine if your gut health is to blame. Kumar says the first step is to optimize your gut health. Since a healthy gut is so important to your overall health and well-being, this should be a priority even if you do not have skin problems.

Identifying any underlying pathological bowel conditions is a good place to start because Dr. Kumar says that “intestinal inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut or related digestive problems can definitely affect the health of the skin.”

Make an appointment with a dermatologist to find out for sure that your gut is affecting the health of your skin. They may recommend a lifestyle and / or diet change if your daily habits cause inflammation in the gut.

However, it is also possible that your gut health is not the source of your skin problems. Consulting a dermatologist will help you sort through the options before making major changes.

Add probiotics to your diet

Dr. Kumar notes that there are some easy ways to improve your gut health that will ultimately improve the appearance of your skin. He says the easiest thing to do is to add probiotics to your diet.

“They affect the skin by supporting the immune system and the skin’s metabolism; they also regulate inflammation, thereby promoting balanced skin microbiomes to affect the ‘gut-skin axis’, ”explained Dr. Kumar.

He says that probiotic supplements (we love this one from Garden of Life) can have a positive effect on cases of atopic dermatitis by lowering the incidence and severity, and they also appear to be a promising acne treatment.

The bottom line

Although the “intestinal-skin axis” can not be ignored, a flawless complexion is possible with optimal intestinal health.

“This [a clear complexion] can be achieved by maintaining a healthy lifestyle with exercise, healthy eating habits, supplements (such as probiotics), stress reduction and good sleep, ”says Dr. Kumar. “Bottom line – keep your gut healthy and it will keep your skin healthy again.”

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