The Role of Gut Health in the Formation of Acne


During the second day of Face & Body Northern California 2019, Laura Cooksey, co-owner and founder of FaceReality Acne Clinic, spoke with attendees about how your gut health impacts skin, specifically acne.

In 1930, dermatologists Stokes and Pillsbury published a paper linking anxiety and depression to gastrointestinal tract function and microbes. According to Cooksey, the study was largely ignored until now but encourages the idea that the gut provides a link between emotional states and skin problems. 

In her presentation, Cooksey explained that the gut creates mood-regulating neurotransmitters. These are often associated with depression and anxiety. Stress of this sort is one of the biggest factors in gut-related problems and causes inflammation in the gut wall. This inflammation starts the acne process and stimulates keratin production, sebum production and skin cell growth. 

Cooksey also cited a Chinese study of 13,000 adolescents which found that digestive problems were more common with skin issues. Similarly, a Russian study of 113 acne patients found that 54% had a disturbance in gut microflora. 

Gut issues, Cooksey stated, do not cause acne, but are among exacerbating variables. Other variables include hormonal fluctuations, medications, comedogenic ingredients, diet and smoking. 

According to Cooksey, when gut flora becomes imbalanced it affects many facets of the body and especially affects the acne-prone. Ways of healing the gut include probiotics, prebiotics, fiber, addressing food intolerances (milk, wheat, eggs), fermented food and herbs such as peppermint. 

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