Probiotics for Rosacea

Rosacea is a skin condition that affects more than 16 million people in the United States, according to the National Rosacea Society. This condition is characterized by redness and small acne-like bumps on the face, combined with red, watery eyes. Treatment for rosacea generally includes prescription medications and topical creams. If an underlying infection is suspected, which can occur in some types of rosacea, antibiotic therapy may also be administered. Probiotics, which are beneficial "good" bacteria, are available as a supplement and may help some individuals with rosacea. Check with your doctor before using any dietary supplement.

A blister pack of antibiotics sits on a white counter. (Image: Studio_3321/iStock/Getty Images)

Rosacea

The cause of rosacea is unknown, but this fact doesn't help the millions of people living with the condition. The National Rosacea Society explains that more than 76 percent of people with rosacea reported that the condition affected their self-image and impaired their willingness to enjoy social events. If rosacea is left untreated, redness can worsen to inflammation that causes small bumps that resemble acne. If these are untreated, the skin can thicken over time, leading to permanent damage to the skin.

Probiotics

Probiotics like acidophilus are microorganisms naturally found in your digestive tract. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, proponents of the use of probiotics claim they can help repopulate the digestive system with beneficial bacteria. The belief behind this use is that illness or symptoms such as diarrhea can alter the balance of "good" and "bad" bacteria in the body, with the "bad" bacteria overtaking the "good." As a result, your body is more prone to conditions like yeast overgrowth that can lead to infection. Probiotics, according to NCCAM, have been found to be beneficial in relieving some health problems such as infectious diarrhea and urinary tract infections.

Probiotics and Rosacea

Because the medications used to treat the symptoms of rosacea often include antibiotics or steroids, Dr. Christiane Northrup explains in her book, "The Wisdom of Menopause," that the normal bacterial balance in your digestive tract can become unbalanced. Although more research is needed for additional support, NCCAM explains that probiotic supplements have been found to be effective in treating eczema, which is a skin condition characterized by painful inflammation of the skin. Eczema however, unlike rosacea, is caused by an allergic response and is not an autoimmune disorder.

Considerations

Probiotics like acidophilus are considered relatively safe to use; however, no scientific evidence supports the use of these supplements for rosacea. NCCAM explains that probiotics seldom cause adverse side effects, but some individuals may experience mild stomach upset. Additionally, NCCAM cautions that if you are considering the use of probiotics and you have a pre-existing infection, the supplement could, in theory, cause an infection. Check with your doctor before using a probiotic supplement and be sure to purchase one that is kept in the refrigerator to keep the bacteria alive. Store probiotic supplements in your refrigerator to maintain the bacterial colony.

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