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The Gut-Skin Connection: How Altered Gut Function Affects the Skin


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I’m preparing for my talk at the upcoming Wise Traditions Conference in Santa Clara, CA on November 10th. I’ll speaking on the “gut-brain-skin axis”, a fascinating topic that I’ve been exploring for some time. I hope some of you will be able to come to the conference, but I thought I’d share a little slice of my research here for those of you who can’t. (If you don’t make the conference and want to watch my entire presentation, I believe the Weston A. Price Foundation sells DVDs of the talks after the fact.)

I’ve discussed the gut-brain axis several times on my radio show, and I’ve at least mentioned the triangular connection between the gut, brain and skin. In this post I’d like to go a little deeper on the gut-skin connection.

Researchers as far back as 1930 suspected a link between gut and skin health, and modern research has now confirmed the importance of this relationship.

And as a clinician who works with people on these conditions, I’d go as far as to say this:

If you want to heal your skin, you have to heal your gut.Tweet This

Associations between Gut Disorders and Skin Conditions

Epidemiological evidence shows a clear association between gut problems and skin disorders. A recent report indicated that small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), a condition involving inappropriate growth of bacteria in the small intestine, is 10 times more prevalent in people with acne rosacea than in healthy controls, and that correction of SIBO in these individuals led to marked clinical improvement. (1) 14% of patients with ulcerative colitis and 24% of patients with Crohn’s disease have skin manifestations. (Interestingly enough, a study just came out showing that a drug normally used to treat psoriasis is also effective for Crohn’s disease.) Celiac disease also has cutaneous manifestations, such as dermatitis herpetiformis, which occurs in 1/4 of celiac sufferers. Celiacs also have increased frequency of oral mucosal lesions, alopecia and vitiligo. (2)

How Altered Gut Function Impacts the Skin

Intestinal permeability (a.k.a. “leaky gut”) causes both systemic and local inflammation, which in turn contributes to skin disease.

In a study way back in 1916, acne patients were more likely to show enhanced reactivity to bacterial strains isolated from stool. 66 percent of the 57 patients with acne in the study showed positive reactivity to stool-isolated bacteria compared to none of the control patients without active skin disease. 1 In a more recent study involving 80 patients, those with acne had higher levels of and reactivity to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) endotoxins in the blood. None of the matched healthy controls reacted to the e. coli LPS, while 65% of the acne patients had a positive reaction. Both of these studies suggest that increased intestinal permeability is an issue for a significant number of acne patients. (4)

Speaking of permeable barriers: most of you have heard of leaky gut by now, but what about “leaky skin”? The main function of the skin is to act as a physical, chemical and antimicrobial defense system. Studies have shown that both stress and gut inflammation can impair the integrity and protective function of the epidermal barrier. This in turn leads to a decrease in antimicrobial peptides produced in the skin, and an increase in the severity of infection and inflammation in the skin. (5)

The gut flora also influences the skin. Substance P is a neuropeptide produced in the gut, brain and skin that plays a major role in skin conditions. An altered gut microbiome promotes the release of substance P in both the gut and the skin, and probiotics can attenuate this response. (6) The gut microbiota influences lipids and tissue fatty acid profiles, and may influence sebum production as well as the fatty acid composition of the sebum. (7) This may explain why a Russian study found that 54% of acne patients have significant alterations to the gut flora (8), and a Chinese study involving patients with seborrheic dermatitis also noted disruptions in the normal gut flora. 2

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Probiotics Improve Skin Conditions

Another line of evidence suggesting a connection between the gut and skin is the observation that probiotics improve skin conditions. Oral probiotics have been shown to decrease lipopolysaccharide, improve intestinal barrier function and reduce inflammation.

The first formal case report series on the value of using lactobacilli to treat skin conditions was published in 1961 by a physician named Robert Siver. He followed 300 patients who were given a commercially available probiotic and found that 80 percent of those with acne had some clinical improvement. 3 In a more recent Italian study involving 40 patients, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum in addition to standard care led to better clinical outcomes than standard care alone. (9) And another recent study of 56 patients with acne showed that the consumption of a Lactobacillus fermented dairy beverage improved clinical aspects of acne over a 12-week period. (10)

The beneficial effect of probioitics on skin may explain why pasteurized, unfermented dairy is associated with acne, but fermented dairy is not. I haven’t seen any studies on raw dairy and skin conditions, but my guess is that it wouldn’t be associated either. Orally consumed probiotics reduce systemic markers of inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which are elevated locally in those with acne. (11) Oral probiotics can also regulate the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines within the skin. (12) The fermentation of dairy reduces levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) by more than four-fold. (13) This is significant because studies show that acne is driven by IGF-1, and IGF-1 can be absorbed across colonic tissue. (14) This would be particularly problematic when increased intestinal permeability is present, which as I mentioned above is often the case in people with acne.

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  1. Strickler A, Kolmer JA, Schamberg JF: Complement fixation in acne vulgaris. J Cutaneous Dis 1916, 34:166-78.
  2. Zhang H, Yu L, Yi M, Li K: Quantitative studies on normal flora of seborrhoeic dermatitis. Chin J Dermatol 1999, 32:399-400.
  3. Siver RH: Lactobacillus for the control of acne. J Med Soc New Jersey 1961, 59:52-53.
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Join the conversation

  1. I get an alert of sorts to the agony of my gastrointestinal issues. Dry patches of skin show up on the same spots on my hands, they crack open and won’t close without me removing the dry skin and taking great care of them. I then get sick, can’t eat much of anything, get stabbing pain in my stomach and guts, bloat, irragular&bloody stool, and become lethargic. Keifer & antifungals help for a bit, but it keeps coming back… I’m miserable and doctors keep running me in circles😔

  2. I’m 52 and had moderate adult acne for 30 years, which got worse when I fell ill with severe ME/CFS. Nothing I tried worked. At the height of my illness I had huge, hard boils all over my neck, and big blocked pores on my face, back and chest. Then my specialist ME doctor diagnosed gut dysbiosis and put me on a strict stoneage (ie ‘Paleo’) diet + long-term oral Nystatin. I also made kefir, first with dairy then tinned coconut milk. My skin is totally clear and glowy. Occasionally I have a very minor flare-up which seems to relate to allergies – to both foods and gut flora – which is part of my wider health problems and is still a work in progress.

    • That’s interesting about the Nystatin. I’ve only given that to patients with oral thrush from steroids puffers.

      I may try kefir. That’s one thing I haven’t tried. Sauerkraut helps alot too but cabbage causes me more pain. I do eat yoghurt daily and have tried all different probiotics. I think I will try the kefir.

      I am on FODMAP diet to try help my pain.

      • Barb, not all probiotics are created equal.😮 Do a probiotic test…. dissolve your probiotic in 1-/4cup of homo milk, let sit for 1 hour… it should congel, curdle, thicken. If it does not, you are wasting your money! As it is mot digesting the proteins.😬😉

        I have found by trial and error, an exceptional probiotic/enzyme/antifubgal blend, for a fraction of the price I was paying for ones that were not doing much for me.😉

        • Please share the name of the probiotic. I think my probiotic is losing effectiveness, if that is possible.

    • Carolyn, my husband has suffered from severe acne his whole adult life. Presently he has uncontrolled boils and breakout all over his neck. What is a ME doctor? He really needs help but none of the skin doctors we’ve been to seem to know what to do? Gail

  3. I had surgery following bowel obstruction 4 years ago to remove adhesions. I had flare ups off and on after and then 2 years ago my bowels stopped working completely without laxatives. 1 year ago I developed a rash on my chest. I thought it might be related to meds but it hasn’t changed even when I went off. I’ve tried topical antibiotic cream. I’m realising it must be related to my bowels as my symptoms have been getting worse and so is the rash. I have taken and usually take probiotics but haven’t noticed a difference. Is there a specific brand that’s best? Refrigerated or not?

    • Hi Barb. Although my issues are different, I can definitely say that not all probiotics are the same. I’ve done over the counter, $70 refrigerated, and the list goes only to finally come to the conclusion that they’re not all the same. We read and hear so much about how probiotics are one of the keys to helping with our guts, but most of the time we don’t “feel” the difference. I had given up on them altogether, but tried yet another one. Since no other probiotics in the past had helped I figured I try this new probiotic at the maximum dosage of 4 per night. Yup, I still had the “I’m tough and not even this may help” attitude. I used this probiotic with a gentle detox (poop stuff). The idea was to get control of the overgrown bad bacteria and detox it while repopulating the good stuff. It sounded harmonious and within a week I had major toxic withdrawal symptoms. At this point I was sitting in the ER wondering where my heart palpitations were coming from and why. Doctors couldn’t tell me anything so I went home, scratched my head and decided to quit drinking caffeine. Meanwhile, I was having conversations with my husband and children about how great I was feeling. I wasn’t napping, I was pooping great every single day (I thought that was a myth because it wasn’t normal for me), my troubled facial skin smoothed out, I wasn’t itchy down there as usual, and my foot had cleared up from a foot fungus breakout (this had become normal for over a year on a monthly basis). The best part was I was in a great mood. Apparently, when you’ve got a bunch of issues your mood can really stink…my poor husband. Anyway, yes, toxins finally coming out, my microbiomes being rebalanced and I’m feeling like the luckiest kid ever at 41! I knew I was on to something good so I researched until I came to the conclusion that I should have been taking “baby steps.” I should not have taken the maximum dosage even though nothing in the past had changed or helped. Thankfully I had a great support system and went from there. Since then I’ve also been able to successfully change my diet. In the past I would get cravings and cave in to the carbs or sweets. Now I’ve got it under control. Whew! This response was longer than I expected. If you’d like more info please let me know. Aloha for now.

      • I appreciate you responding except I’m not really sure what you are saying. I am an RN and I realize probiotics are different. I’ve tried various ones that we trust in hospital and others directed by Naturopath, and even just whatever. As of yet, none have helped. So your response is you took it with a laxative and it helped? That’s awesome. 🙂

        My problem is a bit different maybe as my bowels don’t work so I chronically have stool rotting inside me. I am on a $200/month med for chronic constipation that was starting to keep my bowels moving but it seems to have stopped working. I also get distended whenever I eat and sometimes randomly. I can look 7-8 months pregnant. I’ve been hoping the probiotics would help that (not yet), and just now connecting the rash on my chest, and flu-like achiness to my sluggish bowels.

        I know alot of ppl who find the probiotics in sauerkraut really helps, but it causes me pain. I also eat yoghurt every day. Hopefully I will find that right one that works for me! The rash is awful

        • Have you tried milk thistle or silymarin or a combination of milk thistle, dandelion and artichoke to first clean out the liver? When the liver is on overload,most times nothing else works as efficiently

        • Barb, I had trouble digesting my food and couldn’t get my bowels moving then I started taking enzymes with every meal they work to break down your food take a lot it worked for me!

        • HI Barb,
          I saw your post and couldn’t help but let you know my personal experience. I’m currently pregnant and my obgyn told me to eat an apple every day drink three cups of tea within thirty minutes to relieve my constipation. It was so relieving afterwards when I started having two bowel movements a day. I also thought I’d like to introduce you to a product I started taking a week ago. It is more than a probiotic because it contains enzymes which remove bad microbes and substances from your gut instead of just adding good bacteria. Furthermore, it comes with biocleanse which helps the body’s natural ability to flush out the bad stuff. It is an all natural plant-based product. I want to help other feel better and be healthier and happier. Constipation isn’t fun. Oh, and I have no more sugar cravings from this product as well. If you’re interested, don’t hesitate to let me know. Blessings.

  4. I’ve had systemic candida and food intolerances (fructose, gluten, lactose), IBS like symptoms for years. Now my skin exudes any spices, garlic or onion that I eat. It is really strong. If I eat chilli and then touch my eyes, it burns. Even my eyeballs and the roof of my mouth exude the spices. Is that a known result of poor gut health?

    • I think it is. If your really interested in cleaning it up send me a message. lisaholdren(at)ymail.com

  5. My son is 3 and I am going to say that he has cyclical bouts with diarrhea in the spring and fall. (typically March and November). He doesn’t show any fever and he feels pretty good overall, but he will be “loose” for about 5-7 days each time. He also does have some skin issues. I would say that he has some eczema and blotchy skin. However, his skin issue during this current bout is not any worse than any other time. I talked to someone the other day and they mentioned that there could be a correlation and I am just trying to learn a little more so we can avoid these in the future.

  6. I was diagnosed with lupus in 2012, and I also was being treated for rosacea. When I took a product (an easy 8-week regimen) that effectively balanced the gut, in week 5, unexpectedly my redness cleared. The company that makes this product is called Le-Vel, and the product I used was called Thrive. I deliberately made my autoimmune/inflammatory blood work for after the 8th week of the protocol. Two of my three inflammatory markers had dropped dramatically. My rheumatologist was amazed and very happy with this significant shift. I have become a gut-health enthusiast. If you want to talk more about this, please contact me at flynitta[at]gmail.com. You can check out the product at flynitta.le-vel.com if it interests you at all.

  7. Hi there, I have suffered with different forms of gastritis for 12 years. It initially started with food intolerances which lead to my stomach swelling to 7months pregnant and pain in my abdomen. The doctors could not diagnose what that was. It reduced after I was given an enema before an endoscopy. I still suffer with this sometimes but use omeprazole and it calms it down. However for the last year I have developed a new condition. I am constantly belching whether I eat or not. Now a days this can get coupled with hiccups. I have broken out with pimple with pus which I have never had before in my life. I rarely ever used to break out. My face skin is showing pigmentation that is growing. I have stopped gluten and lactose and that is helping but I don’t know w whether this is gut, intestine or colon related. The doctors have just put it down to IBS! I don’t think that is the case. I am wondering whether to take pre and pro biotics. Please guide me. Thank you.

  8. I healed my oozing yellow crusty bumps which the dermatologist had no idea were and the biopsy lab also was clueless. All she could recommend was an anti-biotic. I healed these horrible oozy bumps in 3 weeks by adding raw sauerkraut to each meal, oil of oregano drops, IntestiNew, Barley grass juice and a probiotic in the morning. It had been an on going problem for 2 years since I had been on Prednisone and anti-biotics for 3 years for my COPD. I stopped eating gluten, tomatoes and a few other things during this healing process. Now I can eat anything. I will eat raw sauerkraut the rest of my life. It has made an amazing difference in the way I feel. Please do yourself a favor and say no thanks to the drugs and eat organic food. I promise your life will turn around. I went through a healing crisis in those 3 weeks, my face (where all the bumps were) swelled up and hardened under the skin but the bumps stopped oozing and no new bumps appeared once I started the Oil of Oregano and raw sauerkraut, etc. Even my ears swelled up as well as my eyes. My body was telling me it was getting rid of the bad. I just had to wait it out. Good luck to all that suffer from this unnamed skin inflammation. Once you heal your gut your skin will be perfect!! best to all, Sally

    • Hi Sally,

      Sally – So great to hear your healing story! I have been experiencing papulopustular rosacea symptoms (oozy crusty bumps like you) sometime taking azithromycin for an infection, and then was prescribed minocycline 50 mg four months later for a month to clear my acne (which I think was caused by a candida imbalance due to the z pack). Needless to say, the antibiotics hurt instead of helping. I am going to try a candida diet and was wondering if I could get your advice. Thank you!

    • Try applying kefir ( fermented dairy ) topically 1 or 2 X day. It has nearly eliminated my teenage son’s severe acne and my chronically itchy fungal skin infection. We also drink it first thing in the morning. Kefir is much cheaper and more effective than buying probiotics in my experience. Look up Donna Schwenk A Cultured Life on how to make kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, Kim chi, etc. Fermented foods have changed our lives!

  9. My dad has chronic gastritis keeps him up all the time and now his skin is flaky and itching and gout also some how it has to be related any suggestions? Thank you

    • prayer for your dad, start by eliminating these:
      Anger ( note allergic reactions to food and environment is also a form of anger, fear, jealousy, paranoia etc gets converted to anger)
      always check food content.
      Avoid anything from China

  10. Hi Everyone,

    I have had seborrheic demerits for over 9 years now. Gastritis and reflux twice in the last 3 years. Unfortunately it seems impossible to tell how much of my gut and skin condition is caused by what I would consider normal stress or a diet that needs to be changed. Perhaps both. My question is about taking a probiotic while trying to fix/eliminate SIBO. Wouldn’t the probiotic add to the bacteria population in the small intestine? I have read that it should be free of bacteria etc. I have wondered this for a few years now. Secondly, I have taken antibiotics a number of times over the last decade for a few surgeries and other needs. It is possible that my issue is more of a fungal overgrowth rather than a bacterial issue. Doctors continually tell me that a fungal overgrowth is only possible in patients who suffer from HIV or have incredibly poor immune systems. I do know that mine is slightly over active.

    Any insight is appreciated as I try and solve my second flare up of gasritis. I have ordered Black Seed oil, it seemed to be the one thing that worked the last time I spent the better half of a year trying to heal my stomach lining. That and good old bone broth. HiPep mediherb is a lifesaver as well.



    • Hi KEVIN
      I would suggest taking a tablespoon everyday of Great Lakes Beef gelatin. 1 tablespoon in the morning in a hot liquid like tea or coffee and then again before bed in some soup. I got better results using the beef kind than any other. In fact, I make kind of Jell-O shots, and that makes it so much easier to eat. I use 2 1/2 cups heated liquid( any juice you like or water flavored with 1/3 cup lemon or lime juice and sweetener of your choice, ( I use about 1/3 cup xylitol. Heat the water and xylitol and lemon/lime juice until almost boiling then slowly stir in the gelatin( 5 tablespoons per 2 1/2 cups liquid). Stir until gelatin is dissolved. If there are any lumps just pour through a mesh strainer. I poured my liquid into a mini muffin cup baking tray and put in fridge for an hour until really firm. Voila’! Kind of like a softer version of Gummy Bears candy. This is super healing to the mucosal lining in your esophagus, stomach and intestinal tract. L-glutamine is the most beneficial amino acid to help heal the lining.

    • I have suffered with terrible skin problems for the last 8 years. I have dermatitis that use to flare on a regular basis. I have tried everything!!! Diet, all natural, gluten free everything to clear my skin. I have recently stumbled on the gut to skin relationship and decided to try probiotics. Within two days my face Began to heal. I’m now a week into my probiotic and it is a game changer. Do your research to ensure you purchase the right one. I’m taken one with 10 different strains and 30 million cultures. It has changed my life!!!!!!

      • Hi there – just curious – which probiotic supplement are you taking specifically? I’m researching probiotics myself and wondering what has worked for others!


  11. I began making Kombucha and drinking quite a bit of it when I broke out with perioral dermatitis. I am wondering if the yeast in the Kombucha is the cause. Do you have any comments on this? I am still battling the dermatitis and it has been 3 months.
    Thank you.

    • Wow, I have the SAME issue! It started from Kombucha. I haven’t drank the Kombucha in 2 weeks and I still have it! I’m taking a probiotic capsule daily now in hopes it clears it up. A good reaction from Kombucha shouldn’t be lasting this long. Therefore, in my opinion, it’s not from getting toxins out, it’s a bad reaction to the Kombucha.

      • Grains, starches, powders with stuff in it, vinegars, corn syrups, plain white sugar, organic cane sugar all contribute to your mess. I know! Try meat with vegetables as a meal. Avoid the nuts and seeds for 1 month. Eat whole fruit. Watch the effect citrus has on you.

        • I have had similar problems with fermented foods…I was told about Histamine Intolerance. It also affects the intestines. Check out low histamine diet. Vinegar and kombucha, nuts, chocolate, tomato, etc contribute to histamine problems. I’ve found that diet to be very difficult, but with motivation and time, your tolerance should improve. Good luck.

      • Just watched a video on utube yesterday about candida/yeast overgrowth in the gut, small intestine, and they said 3 food items were the main causes of yeast over growth and they were beer, sugar and kombucha ( apologies if thats spelt wrong but cant see your letter while typing). The guy on the video who was the interviewer said he was drinking 3 bottles a day so was told to stop. A low or no sugar, no fruit to start with,no yeast, low carbohydrate and no refined food would be a good start. I know your message is older now and you may know all this but thought it worth replying to.

    • Kombucha ! I started making kombucha and taking it around the same time as my facial dermatitis started too! I do have a healthy probiotic rich diet most of the time but haven’t been able to heal the face rash. Should I stop taking kombucha?

    • I don’t think the yeast in the Kombucha eats all of the sugar that is used to make it. At least in my case when I tested my blood sugar it was too high after drinking Kombucha. Wonder if the sugar in the Kombucha may be feeding candida and causing an overgrowth and contributing to inflammation? Also, if you are sensitive to Histamines, fermented foods are high in Histamines and you can get a Histamine rash. Try stopping fermented foods and take some liver cleansing herbs. If that doesn’t do it, maybe do a candida cleanse.

  12. Hello, I am suffering from perioral dermatitis which has become really bad on my whole face. I was using steroid-antibiotic-antifungal cream which was keeping flare ups at bay, but as soon as I stop it comes right back. I have that for almost 9 months now…! I am desperate. I am working with a gut specialist for my intestinal dysbiosis and leaky gut, but I am afraid it will not help my condition. Is there a good chance that my skin will clear up if I am currently doing an extensive gut detox/treatment to rebalance my microbiome. What if it is not curable? Has anyone suffering from peri-oral dermatitis had success after doing such treatment ?

    • Maggie,
      My horrible facial skin condition finally responded to using oral anti fungal diflucan or generic fluconase
      To address what turned out to be fungal infection from eating shredded cheese!
      Took daily for 1 month then 2xs wk for 2 mos. Then weekly 1 month.
      Then… daily for now 10 days and almost gone.
      It never was acne. Facial fungus.
      Ps cortisone cream makes it much worse. Used monostadt.
      Serious stuff

      • What kind of shredded cheese, specifically?
        Thank you for your post. I have fungal skin infection on my arms.
        I have severe eczema, leaky gut and Hashimotos.
        I eat lots of cheese, so would appreciate knowing which ones bothered you.

        • Ok here’s the deal with cheese. I ate organic shredded motzarella cheese with powhere’d cellulose. If it doesn’t say vegetable cellulose it is tree pulp or cotton! This filler is used to keep the bagged cheese to keep it fry. Probles is , this filler is also a host for growing fungus! Weakened immune systems and leasy gut provides body with need to flush out through the skin as it enters the blood stream.
          Avoid bagged cheese with cellulose!

            • I had a horrible skin condition that was linked to eating packaged shredded cheese with cellulose powder in it. The powder is a filler used to absorb moisture and is made from wood pulp or cotton.
              I got 3 large cysts from eating 3 separate meals made with this cheese. Within 24-48 hours after ingesting, large bumps appeared. They then surfaced and scabbed up.
              Inside were splinters of fungus spores that had to be removed. The spores traveled under the skin and spread.
              When I realized what it was I started taking diflucan or fluconizol, an anti fungal medication. This worked!
              The skin began to flush out the fungus. I took diflucan daily for a month, then 2xs a week for 2 months, then 1x per week for 3 months.
              Bagged shredded cheese harbors the moisture and fungus may grow in the wood pulp cellulose fibers.
              I no longer eat cheese or milk products.

          • During my own research, I found that Cows milk and cows cheese should be avoided. It is not as easily digestible by humans and especially by people who have a compromised digestive system. Replace with goat milk or goat cheese or goat yoghurt to allow the gut to heal. For anyone with skin problems, consider applying a diluted amount of braggs or solanagold apple cider vinegar (see Earth Clinic) – that has helped me. For topical application, also natures sunshine “silver shield rescue” in gel form has helped.

      • Maggie, Thank you for posting your follow up response about your dermatitis. I have had it for 3 months and it gave me hope.

    • Have you tried eliminating all oils and anything with grains including the whole organic grains?? Potatoes can cause skin allergies depending on the genetics and preparation process. Eliminate all processed stuff.

      • What cured my psoriasis, arthiris and gastritis was raw sawerc. Its amazing, but also iam dairy- refine grains free :).

    • Hi there Maggie: I have similar symptoms, and also sometimes get weeping skin on my eyelids and face (why EYELIDS???). In November 2014, my dermatologist considered hospitalizing me because my skin was so inflamed with hives. Putting on clothes was physically painful. My skin is now better than it has ever been, and though I cannot tell you the direct cause, I can certainly tell you what I have been doing:
      1) Began an elimination diet Nov. 2014, and slowly, over months of time, eliminated dairy, gluten, caffeine from my diet. I was already allergic to nuts, tomatoes, eggplant and others. Trust me, eliminating coffee was the worst, but I did it, because I learned that it was causing massive inflammation for me. After I eliminated caffeine, my inflammation went from an 8 or 9 on a scale of 1 to 10 down to about a 6.

      2) I created an allergy card that I could give to restaurants, and that has been a massive help in helping me to avoid food allergens at restaurants, and the restaurants love the allergy card. I have discovered that 60% of the restaurants I used to dine at regularly use hidden food ingredients and additives (milked chicken, milk in the chicken with broccoli sauce). I reduced my allergic reactions to about one every 2 to 3 weeks by using the allergy card, and right now I am starting a 3 week streak. Oh, and when I avoid food allergens, many of the symptoms you’re mentioning went away for me.

      3) You may not believe in this, but I am a believer. I went to an acupuncturist in June 2016, and he’s helped me get over the hump. Today, my skin is as smooth as baby’s skin, and my digestion and elimination is better than it has been for at least 10 years. I ate something I was allergic to about 3 weeks ago by accident, and with the acupuncture, my skin barely even itched, and was only uncomfortable when there was no cream on it. Even with a massive allergic reaction and flare, my skin and pain was only about a 3 out of 10 on the pain scale compared to what it was in Nov. 2014. No doubt, I am better off now than I was. I even went about 2 to 3 days without applying steroid cream – that’s how low the inflammation was during my last allergic reaction.

      If you need more proof – by November 2014 my IgE had climbed steadily to 14,000. Yes. And the normal range is about 0 to 100. I took a test about 6 months ago, and it is down to 6,900. So, a huge improvement!

      I don’t have the answer to your question – I can only tell you what has been working for me. Good luck to you.

      • I think accupuncture could be an answer to my exfoliation problem, notwithstanding I never really believed in accupuncture. As I am shedding my entire skin especially around my head and face daily I just have try something before it drives one insane, yes it’s that bed.

        • Fascinating reading! Thanks all. I had granuloma anulare for three years and was covered in hives from my elbows to my knees and feet. Dr. said steroids would keep it at bay but would not get rid of it. I suggested a connection to my leaky gut which I was addressing through eating AIP, and doc said there was absolutely no connection between belly health and skin . In my shock I said are you xxxx kidding me ?? We parted ways.

          I have happily healed my body and gut over the past three years but got exposed to gluten on vacation last spring and the skin issues came roaring back. Started weekly acupuncture at a nearby acupuncture school and they suggested I try Chinese herbs to target the underlying skin issues at the organs’ level. Over three months I watched my skin irritations and “scars ” recede and they are gone completely for the first time in years. Was on holiday recently and inadvertently exposed to gluten and had absolutely no side effects. Will this work for you/anyone? I don’t know, but it works for me. Chinese medicine believes it starts in the gut and then targets the underlying organs supporting the belly. I hope this gets you thinking about the multiple ways we can heal ourselves. My goal is to fill my toolbox with modalities and information . Thanks! I welcome everyone of your experiences so I can become a greater detective for my best health.

    • I suffered with peri oral dermatitis for almost a year trying the natural route with paleo, allergen free diets, etc. A round of doxycycline for one month cleared it up. Steroids make it worse.

    • Maggie…I was one of those that suffered from ACNE as well. As a matter of fact I was on antibiotics, birth control pills, and chemical peels to try to help it. At first they all helped, but I was beginning to feel “weird” on the inside. So I quit after 9 months of continuous use. My acne returned, but not as vicious. Throughout the next few years I tried cleansers, creams, ice packs, oils, and numerous probiotics. I had nearly given up…by the time I made it to Hawaii about 3 years ago I started having foot fungus breakouts. Then I tried a probiotic with a gentle detox (that I still take daily) and within a week’s time my all the blisters from my foot went away and my acne settled down…both were clear and smooth and I almost could not believe it. So I did some more research and am in total agreement with this article. There is a definite connection between the gut, skin, and brain. Speaking of the brain…I also quit having daily headaches and my moodiness was a thing of the past. It just goes to show that when you’re feeling great again and you’ve got energy then of course your mood will improve. Anyway, if you or somebody else would like some information about my regiment please do not hesitate to ask.

  13. Taking a cortisone shot and simultaneously taking excessive antibiotics led to an overgrowth of Candida in my colon which then led to a Tinea versicolor skin infection. I used caprylic acid which did not help. I needed to take fluconazole for 5 weeks and noticed the Candida after going to the bathroom. I took a colon probiotic. I don’t eat much sugar and stay away from refined carbohydrates. Do not have a colonoscopy until you build up the beneficial bacteria because that procedure will kill all of the beneficial bacteria. What also helped was getting 50 minutes of sun and only using sunscreen on my face. Vitamin D from the sun strengthens your immunity. Don’t over do it though.

  14. Chris,
    Dr. Bodo Melnik, a German dermatologist who has studied extensively the milk-acne-prostate cancer connection, explains the dairy-disease link in two ways. I’d love to hear your comments.

    Milk has a software–microRNAs–that transfer gene-regulatory material from mom to child, from commercial milk to the consumer, and these mRNAs increase mTOR signaling (growth signaling within a cell.) In turn, increased mTOR signaling leads to increased IGF-1 signaling (growth signaling between cells), and IGF-1 stimulates a potent form of testosterone that in turn activates more mTOR signaling. Fermentation and boiling seem to destroy the bioactive mRNAs, but pasteurization does not. So fresh milk, even pasteurized, still has the software to drive abnormal cell growth.

    Milk also has a hardware–its amino acids, including leucine and glutamine, which also activate mTOR and IGF-1. In addition, leucine induces an insulin response, thus increasing blood sugar, and stimulates oil producing glands (hence, the acne connection.) Many dairy foods are high in leucine, including raw and fermented ones ( See http://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-001082000000000000000-1w.html?), and it’s the leucine that appears to be the culprit for prostate cancer.

    Your thoughts?

  15. Hello,

    I study skintherapy and at the moment I am working on my thesis. I study the effect of probiotics on skin diseases, in connection with the gut-brain-skin theory.
    Are there people here who have tried probiotics? Then maybe you could send me a message. You would really help me. I hope that I can contribute knowledge to the skintherapists/ dermatologists.

    Kind regards,

    • I’m interested in what you find out. I’m an esthetician with a BS in health sciences who is thinking about adding a nutrition certificate to my resume. I see the gut/skin connection all the time. I was even recently diagnosed with SIBO and know firsthand the connection…

    • Hi there Ruby! I have been taking Probiotics for about 2 years now, and what I have deduced is that the largest impact you can have on your skin is to eliminate food allergens from your diet. The biggest change in my skin I have observed from removing gluten, caffeine, white sugar, alcohol and other acid reflux-inducing irritants from my diet. I also started seeing an acupuncturist, and his advice, which was to drink lots of water before each meal, and drink water afterwards but not during a meal, has also greatly improved my digestion. I noticed a clear and strong connection between acid reflux and my itchy, red skin. So, I focus on reducing the acid reflux, and my skin looks amazing. Oh yes, the other thing I have to do is ensure that I do not over eat, which is hard for me, because I love food and my eyes are bigger than my stomach. So, the summary is that probiotics are OK, but reducing or eliminating your acid reflux and food allergens is better.

      • Hi Heather ..
        Just wanted to say thank you for your comments and helpful information that you received from your accupuncturist / Chinese Physician. I ended up going to a accupuncturist this year as well; it did help ! And; I will agree 100% on reducing *anything* and everything in ones diet that will cause acid issues. I’ve read many, many comments here from people that now have leaky gut syndrome. I think a lot of it boils down to: most people are not being honest with sticking to a whole food / clean eating way of life. It’s critical if you want to heal your gut; and feel better. I’ve had at least 5 years experience with on going issues from leaky gut. I just read where: juicing the hard inner core of fresh pineapple, adding tumeric and ginger ( taken as a drink ). Can really help digestion. Drink this before a meal; at least 30 minutes before a meal would probably be best. Probably once a day to start. And, I’m thinking that 1 of these drinks would probably be plenty for adding back enzymes. I’m glad I read what you mentioned about drinking plenty of water before and after meals. My accupuncturist ( also said the same thing about water. ) And, I trust her 100%.

    • Hi Ruby-
      Since I got on probiotics 2 years ago, it has helped me greatly.
      I’m 60, and had eczema resurface from childhood again when in late 40’s. I also had leaky gut, Hashimoto’s and candida. In fact, so badly I lost my fingernails. Been to countless doctors of all types, including allergists and functional med drs. From the onset of using probiotics, my gi tract settled down. The eczema on my face was gone! I could live again! But, it never left my body’s skin. Also, after 8 months on that first probiotic, it stopped working as well. Found another good one, and it too lasted as well for about 10 months. I have no idea why.
      Right now, my body skin has eczema and I think a fungal infection on my arms. I was tested 8 months ago for food allergies, and have stuck to that completely. I’ve been gluten free for a year, and switched from drinking wine (which I loved), to Titos vodka with unsweetened cran juice when social.
      So, in response to you, I could never be without a probiotic again I go right back to severe leaky gut syndrome. And, have to change brands about every year.

      • Please help! I feel i may have the same symptons you have had. Tell me, what was the cause of you almost loosing your fingernails?

    • Aloha Ruby,

      I would love to talk with you about the success I had with my own skin issues and how well I’m doing now. I’d also like to discuss what I’m learning about my body and its relation to carbs and sugars….

      Is there an email I can get from you so we can connect? Or shall I leave my social media address? How do we go about this. Just lmk and we can go from there.


  16. Hi. I’m really hoping that you can offer a viable explanation for the issue that in experiencing. The dermatologist is stumped as well as the functional medicine doctor that I’ve been working with. I have hashimotos disease. My symptoms have just now started to manifest on my skin within the past 6 months. It seems as though my pores can no longer clear by themselves and Ive got tiny clogged pores all over the lower portion of my face and temples. They feel like hard grains of rice. I’m not sure if it is a build up of keratin in my pores that’s unable to clear. I have facials and get them extracted but over the course of a month between appointments, they come right back. It’s very frustrating. Some have speculated that it could be a vitamin A deficiency side effect of perhaps a vitamin D deficiency that’s causing it… I have been checked and I’m severely deficient in both. I’m considering using a topical vitamin A if that would help.
    Any help that you can offer would be great. Thank you.

    • HI Desirae,
      I would look at the lymphatics and liver function. If your deficient in vit A & D, you also need to look at why, is there absorption issues in the gut are you getting enough sun exposure? Vitamin D levels are also affected by kidney and liver function.
      In regards to external vitamin A, I would look at an internal powder would probably be more beneficial. The skin also needs vit A, D, E & Zinc for repair. You don’t want to be on Vit A if your pregnant though, or trying.
      Does your functional medicine practitioner prescribe herbs or supplements. There are some great practitoner brand formulas out there.

      All the best,
      Sarah (Naturopath).

      • Please tell me what dosages of A, E, D and Zinc you recommend, I take e-400, D50,000 weekly. Have minimal A in multivitamin, but want to add that and Zinc.

        • I had little sebum bumps under my skin on my chin area. The only thing that helped was making sure my omega 3 intake was higher than my omega 6. Krill oil is the best

    • No pills potions or gut bugs will fix it. You I suggest have a food choice problem. Consider stopping anything with oils in it. Processed oils cause a great deal of problems with many peoples’ skin. Be weary of the amount of protein you eat. That includes fish, poultry, animals and their by-products such as dairy and any other unnamed living creature. Nuts are NOT a protein source for humans. Nuts have imbalanced ingredients and by-products. I have developed hard bumps on my head and skin from nuts and seeds. Birds have very acid stomachs. We are acid based, but not like birds or carnivores. Enzymes and ?-biotics do NOT solve the problem of what you put in your mouth. The enzyme industry is now a trillion dollar industry gimmick. All processed food has to go. Often the manufacturers put tons of chemicals, emulsifiers and preservatives in their big batches to increase shelf life. That is bad for us humans. Grains are dangerous for thousands of people. I mean all grains, even soaked and fermented, very bad. My story with grains is very long. My research proves that all the food doctors lie just to keep people from eating certain foods. Lying is prevalent in the natural healing industry. Egos and lies make men and women look like big smart folks. I am 61 and finally had to look up the longevity and health of all the so-called gurus. What they said about themselves and what they put on television did not match up with the hard core truth. Grains destroyed my skin with rashes, splits, pus, infection, I was susceptible to catching MRSA infection many times, bloody sheets and clothing all because I ate 100% all organic grains-every last kind of grain-including processed grain products. Stay away from processed sugar products. They increase the likelihood of the spread of yeast oriented diseases. All sodas are out. Avocados can be very problematic. People want to say they are wholesome and natural. They can send fat and more bumps to skin. Eat a very small amount. 1 level tablespoon and put the rest in a closed sealed small mason jar. I suggest you take a critical view of what Dr. McDougall has to say on his website. He corrects more than 90% of many problems with diet. He does prescribe drugs if absolutely necessary. Think like an animal when considering the cleanliness of the food you buy and eat. Dr. McDougall has trainings where you can stay at a hotel and eat while taking classes and gaining knowledge. By the way, we really do not need oils the way people keep saying. Dr. McDougall is not a supplement person. He is a food educator. It’s the food that is mostly killing the people and making us sick or well. At home, we distill our water. Two gallons a day for our needs. We keep 20 gallons ready at all times. There is more but this is a start. Good wishes to you. Art

      • Hello Art ..
        Just want to say thank you for your great message and helpful information. After; years of dealing with leaky gut and all of the same identical issues that everyone is has or is experiencing; I 100% agree with you. It really IS a food issue. SO many people are addicted to processed foods; that just reek havoc on our bodies over time. It’s almost like a slow clicking time bomb. I’m definitely going to look up Dr. Mc Dougall; and research the diet / food thoughts from him. And after trial and error; I agree with you on “oils”. Even, olive oil on a salad; seems to irritate my skin. I love avocados; and usually eat 1 a day. I will hate to give them up to be honest; but I might have to. I truly want to heal my gut. After 5 years of living on roller coaster; of skin rashes, digestion upsets … I’m done !! I just ended up with my upper chest breaking out in tiny bumps 2 weeks ago; and my digestion was all over the map. I know without a doubt it was caused from: gluten, oils. Thank you again for your message and good comments.

      • I have to disagree, Art. I had GERD for a full year (constant, daily, severe GERD – a nightmare). My first plan of action was a gradually ramped up elimination diet. To the point where I was consuming olive oil, hemp protein w/o fiber, and salmon for the majority of my food consumption (plus a minor bit of other things to get 100% of all micro nutrients).

        I tried some of the strictest diets known to man, for months. Didn’t help.

        What did help? Probiotics. Not the first kind I tried, but this other kind by Garden of Life (I think?) that are refridgerated. They are quite common. I can’t say for certain that ‘cured’ me, but the problem was gone, FOR GOOD, shortly after I began taking them. Maybe it was coincidence.

        My hunch, is that poor diet and alcohol consumption CAUSED by GERD, by wiping out my good gut bacteria, thus leaving ample room and resources for BAD gut bacteria to move in. I upset and redesigned the ecosystem with nasty stuff. I think largely, intestinal gas or under-digestion played a role in the GERD from my stomach. It’s all linked.

        Once the ‘bad bacteria’ has moved into the neighborhood, the purest diet in the word isn’t going to jack dong. They’ll feast on whatever you’re eating.

        The problem – caused by diet – can only be solved by probiotics. You keep dumping enough of this alternate bacteria in your gut, they start multiplying and consuming all the resources … starving out whatever other bacteria is down there, and re-establishing the equilibrium.

        And also (consult a doctor first) stop taking PPIs — those cause and prolong GERD.

      • Has anyone had a problem after taking fish oil supplements??? I feel like my skin rash is worse and so are my allergies??or could it be something else not related?

    • I had that type of bumps and they all went away after 3 weeks on The Body Ecology Diet. As the sticker says, heal the gut, heal the skin

    • Hi Desirae, my mum has hashimotos too… Was v d deficient too. Has recently given up drinking tea (used to drink 10 cups a day) and has seen so many health benefits. She read stuff about the high levels of fluoride in tea being linked to hypothyroidism and numerous other issues, including that it inhibits vit d absorption. We also saw some info on ‘fluoridema’ I think it’s called… Basically acne on the chin caused by fluoride in toothpaste and drinks… Maybe worth checking out if u drink much tea or live in an area where fluoride is added to the tap water? Xx

    • Hi Desirae: I actually have the same problem, but the issue is all over my arms and thighs. I have some good news for you – I am seeing some positive results and a reduction and then elimination of the bumps if I do two things:
      1) Minimize sugar intake.
      2) Use a thinner lotion or cream on the bumpy areas. I was using a cream with an additional application of Aquaphor, which is a thick ointment. The bumps soon arrived.

      I began to use just the cream, and to apply the cream more frequently throughout the day, instead of applying the cream (Cetaphil Cream) plus the Aquaphor. So far, I am having great results. Take a look at the moisturizer you are using and see if applying a thinner or oil-free moisturizer on those areas helps you. In addition, remove sweets from your diet for about 4 to 5 days and see what happens. Good luck.

      • Hi,

        In my experience these bumps on the back of my arms are linked to gluten and maybe dairy sensitivity. However, when taking high dose iodine and dextoxing, I get lots of red bumps on the top of my thighs and forearms. While eradicating h pylori with monolaurin and triphala, I developed little vitiligo spots in the same areas – not sure why. Am gluten and mostly dairy free.

        Perhaps the bumps on your skin are related to detox as well? There’s a TCM organ face chart which might help you discover the culprit.

  17. Hi,I am 39.My main problems for over 15 years seem to be Gastric disorders. The symptoms increased recently. I have appetite to eat but if I eat, I have these problems:

    – headache
    – constipation
    -feeling my face and my head’ skin are swollen.
    -loosing the sense of tasting and then smelling.
    – a very taste -less in mouth
    – ulcer in my mouth and my throat just like sore throat. recently in worse case I have painful full-pus pimples in genitals( very big ball lump outside genitals), hips and hands.
    – Joint pain
    -fever and shaking (in aggravating stage).
    I am feeling something like fluids in my head and ears and nose mostly.
    I am sure this is a definite link between gut issues and skin pimples. could you give me an advice please. I couldn’t fix it yet even by referring many doctors.
    Thank you

    • Leaky gut is the cause of most of your problems I am sure. Please stop eating all grains, dairy, soy, corn. Take a probiotic religiously.
      Eat foods low in salicylates as this will lessen your reactions when you eat. Try and eat them in soups. Also bone broths. Please take my advice seriously you must be very careful with what you eat. Salicylates are not that bad per say, but because of the inflammation in your gut lining is in bad shape from eating gluten – dairy and the like over the years – the more salicylates you eat, the worse your symptoms will be, your body reacts to them as intruders when they enter your blood via weak gut barrier

    • What are you eating? I suggest making a journal; include anything you ingest- food, beverage, medicines, tobacco, etc. Include all symptoms you have after consuming anything.

      It sounds like you have a food allergy. I would see a naturopath and/or allergy specialist to determine if that is what causes your symptoms.