Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) is a condition in which there is an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, causing systemic inflammation and digestive symptoms such as bloating, gas, abdominal pain, and diarrhoea. The connection between the state of one’s gut and specifically SIBO and the health of their skin, has been around for a while. Scientists have been aware of this correlation since the 1930s, speculating that it is present.
It is possible to trace skin conditions like acne, rosacea and eczema to inflammation in the gut. Therefore, if you are suffering from inflammation in your gut, it is likely that you will observe symptoms in other parts of your body, including your skin. However, by rectifying the cause of the gut inflammation, you can ease the skin conditions mentioned above.
The gut skin connection
The gut-skin axis is a two-way communication path between the gut and skin. The microbes in the gut deliver signals to the skin that influence its composition, inflammation, and sebum production. If anything in the gut is off-balance, the skin will be affected. Inflammation is a main cause of disruption and it can be induced by SIBO, autoimmunity and diet with all three being the issue at the same time. Poor gut health can be the outcome of a disturbed gut microbiota or a weakened intestinal barrier.
It is a common occurrence to find that individuals with skin issues often have underlying digestive issues that need to be addressed. At the clinic (London Centre for Functional Medicine) we focus and concentrate our efforts on addressing the underlying digestive issues first and foremost.
Nutrient Deficiencies and Skin Health
SIBO can cause the absorption of nutrients from food to be disrupted, leading to deficiencies in vitamins and minerals that are essential for healthy skin. A deficiency in vitamins and minerals can result in dry, flaky skin and a weakened skin barrier, making the skin more susceptible to developing conditions such as eczema.
Some Skin Problems Associated with SIBO and poor gut health
Rosacea and gut health are interconnected in a complex relationship. There is evidence to suggest that imbalances in the gut microbiome can contribute to the development of rosacea, and the skin condition can also affect gut function. Researchers have found that people with rosacea often have a higher number of harmful bacteria in their gut compared to those without the condition.
On the other hand, an unhealthy gut can also lead to rosacea flare-ups. The gut microbiome plays a crucial role in regulating the immune system, and imbalances in gut bacteria can trigger an immune response, causing inflammation and irritation. Additionally, digestive issues such as SIBO can increase the production of toxic substances in the gut knows as endotoxins, which can also lead to skin irritation and rosacea symptoms. A 2008 study found that SIBO is 10 times more prevalent in people with rosacea and that correcting SIBO led to improvement in rosacea symptoms.
Therefore, maintaining a healthy gut microbiome is essential for managing rosacea. This can be achieved through a diet high in fibre, fermented foods, and probiotics, as well as avoiding triggers such as alcohol and spicy foods that can irritate the gut and skin. However, when you have SIBO, you need to remove the overgrowth, reduce some fermented foods and avoid some forms of fibre which may cause further irritation to the already sensitive gut linning. By doing a SIBO breath test your functional medicine practitioner or functional medicine doctor will be able to assess the best route to take from a nutrition perspective.
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic skin condition characterized by red, itchy, and scaly patches on the skin. While the exact cause of eczema is not known, it is believed to be related to a combination of genetic and environmental factors, including imbalances in the gut microbiome.
Studies have shown that individuals with eczema often have a different gut microbiome compared to those without the condition. Imbalances in gut bacteria can lead to increased gut permeability, allowing harmful substances to enter the bloodstream and trigger an immune response, causing inflammation and eczema symptoms. Additionally, a healthy gut microbiome helps to regulate the immune system, and imbalances in gut bacteria can cause the immune system to overreact, leading to eczema flare-ups.
Therefore, maintaining a healthy gut microbiome is crucial for managing eczema. Additionally, probiotics and prebiotics supplements have been shown to improve eczema symptoms in some individuals.
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune skin condition that is characterized by red, scaly patches on the skin that can be itchy, painful, and unsightly. The exact cause of psoriasis is not known, but it is believed to be related to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. And similarly to eczema, the cause of psoriasis isn’t well understood by western medicine, and treatment involves a process of identifying and then learning to avoid triggers that lead to flare up of symptoms.
People with psoriasis display an imbalance in their gut microbe population causing SIBO as well as higher concentrations of proinflammatory cytokines, possibly triggered by microorganisms leaving the intestine and entering the bloodstream such as LPS which can be very inflammatory for the skin
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) and acne have a complex relationship, and there is evidence to suggest that they may be connected. Acne is a common skin condition that affects millions of people, and it is characterized by pimple-like bumps on the face, neck, back, and chest. The exact cause of acne is not known, but it is believed to be related to a combination of hormonal imbalances, genetics, and lifestyle factors.
Similarily to the other skin conditions discussed, there is a link between dysbosis, SIBO, leaky gut and acne with the same mechanisms being at play causing inflammation from endotoxins entering the bloodstream causing inflammation, detoxifications issues and ensuing acne. There are other factors at play but we know from studies that the gut skin connection is an underlying factor that needs to be addressed.
From a conventional perspective, most treatments are topical which goes against the grain from a functional medicine approach where we look at what is causing the imbalance. Topical treatments such as steroids and ironically antibitoics, where they can further disrupt the balance, can be short lived causing further disruption to an already unbalanced microbiome.
How to Correct Gut Inflammation and Improve Your Skin
To optimize your digestive system and skin health, it is essential to address any existing infections such as SIBO and more importantly what caused SIBO in the first place. Moreover, ensure that your body is receiving the necessary vitamins and minerals, probiotics/prebiotics, and dietary and lifestyle modifications. This may help to reduce symptoms or even remedy the problem.
How we can help
The functional medicine approach to working with skin conditions is looking at the underlying cause. Naturopathic plasters can be used for short term treatment but once we get to the underlying cause we generally see huge improvements in skin health. If you are having skin issues, reach out to us at the London Centre for Functional Medicine and schedule a 15 minute discovery call to see if we can help.