SIBO and Acne: Is Your Gut to Blame for Your Acne?

  • Acne is one of the symptoms of an imbalanced gut microbiome.
  • SIBO can cause inflammation of the skin which is linked to acne.
  • Treating SIBO with antibiotics can reduce acne's negative effects.
SIBO and Acne Is Your Gut to Blame for Your Acne

Have you ever noticed that your skin seems to break out right after you eat something greasy? Or maybe you've exhausted your options for treating acne and have tried everything out there. The underlying cause of your acne may actually be residing in your digestive system. In the case of SIBO, an excessive population of bacteria has established itself in the small intestine. This is linked not only to gastrointestinal problems but also to skin conditions like acne. Inflammation and hormonal disruptions can occur when the gut is out of whack, leading to those annoying breakouts. But have no fear; there are things you can do to treat SIBO and boost your skin's health. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and acne have been linked, so in this article I'll show you how to clear up your skin from the inside out.

What is SIBO?

The condition known as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is characterized by an abnormally high number of bacteria in the small intestine. Most of the nutrients you eat are absorbed by your body in the small intestine. Bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain are just some of the symptoms caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, which prevents nutrients from being absorbed.

When the large-intestine-dwelling bacteria move into the smaller intestine, a condition known as small-intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) develops. Reduced gastric acid secretion, impaired motility of the small intestine, and underlying medical conditions like celiac disease and Crohn's disease are all potential causes of this. The symptoms of SIBO result from the bacteria in the small intestine fermenting undigested carbohydrates and producing gas.

Up to 15% of the population may suffer from SIBO. Diabetes, scleroderma, and hypothyroidism are among the medical conditions in which this is more common. People with a history of chronic antibiotic use or who have recently undergone abdominal surgery are also at a higher risk.

Understanding Acne and its causes

Acne is a skin condition brought on by the buildup of oil and dead skin cells in the hair follicles. Inflammation and the development of zits, blackheads, and whiteheads result from the bacterial overgrowth made possible by the blocked pores. You can get acne anywhere on your body, not just your face.

Although acne is more common in teenagers, it can occur at any age. Acne can have multiple causes, including hormonal shifts, stress, and genetics. New evidence suggests, however, that the gut microbiome's state may also be crucial to acne's emergence.

Can SIBO cause acne? The link between SIBO and Acne based on research

Humans host a diverse microbial community known as the gut microbiome. These microorganisms are vital to our health in many ways. Acne is just one symptom of an imbalanced gut microbiome that can cause a wide range of other health issues.

Acne sufferers have been found to have a different mix of gut bacteria than those who don't struggle with the skin condition. Acne sufferers, on the other hand, tend to harbor more harmful bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus and fewer beneficial ones like Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus (1).

Acne can be influenced by SIBO in a number of ways. Inflammation of the skin is just one of many organs that can be affected by a bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine. Acne is linked to inflammation (2). Secondly, an increase in androgens has been linked to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Androgens, a class of hormones, have been linked to acne development (3). Finally, SIBO can prevent the body from absorbing nutrients, which can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies that can negatively impact skin health.

Treating SIBO can reduce acne's negative effects. Antibiotic treatment for SIBO was associated with a significant improvement in acne severity, according to one study (4). Antibiotics are commonly used to treat SIBO, but they can upset the delicate microbial balance in the gut, making the condition worse.

Altering one's diet and using complementary medicines can also be effective in treating SIBO. It has been shown that adhering to a low FODMAP diet, which limits certain carbohydrates, can alleviate SIBO symptoms (5). Taking probiotics and prebiotics can also aid in reestablishing a healthy microbiome in the digestive tract.

How to test for SIBO

It is crucial to confirm a diagnosis of SIBO if you suspect you have it. In order to diagnose SIBO, the hydrogen breath test is used. Hydrogen gas production in the small intestine can be measured by having the test subject drink a sugar solution. Hydrogen gas production rises when there is an overabundance of bacteria. Nonetheless, it must be stressed that a positive result on the hydrogen breath test is not necessarily indicative of SIBO.

How to prevent SIBO and acne

The good news is that both SIBO and acne can be avoided with the right approach. Here are some suggestions:

Change your diet

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) can be triggered by a diet high in sugar and carbohydrates. Preventing SIBO can be aided by avoiding processed foods, sugar, and refined carbohydrates. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are all great examples of high-fiber foods that can aid digestion when eaten regularly.

Take probiotics

Intestinal bacterial imbalance is avoided with the help of probiotics. Try to find a probiotic supplement that contains beneficial bacteria like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

Consider herbal remedies

Oregano, berberine, and neem are just a few examples of herbs that have been studied for their potential to kill bacteria in the small intestine because of their antimicrobial properties. Before beginning any new supplement regimen, it is recommended that you speak with your doctor.

Reduce stress

The microbiota-host interaction (SIBO) pathway can be compromised by stress. Meditation, yoga, and deep breathing are just some of the stress-reduction techniques that can help you avoid SIBO and look after your skin.

Natural remedies to combat SIBO and acne

Fortunately, both SIBO and acne can be treated with a variety of all-natural options.

The Low FODMAP diet is one of the best all-natural treatments for SIBO. Short-chain carbohydrates that are fermented poorly in the small intestine (FODMAPs) can cause an overgrowth of bacteria in the gut. In order to starve the bacteria in the gut, the Low FODMAP diet calls for a period of time during which certain high FODMAP foods are avoided.

Herbal antibiotics like oregano oil, berberine, and garlic are also helpful in treating SIBO naturally. These herbs can be used to combat harmful gut bacteria due to their antibacterial properties.

Natural treatments for acne include tea tree oil, aloe vera, and honey. Acne-causing bacteria can be eliminated by using tea tree oil, which has antibacterial properties. The anti-inflammatory properties of aloe vera make it useful for treating skin inflammation. Honey's antimicrobial and anti-clogging properties make it a useful beauty tool.

Foods to avoid when treating SIBO and acne

Foods that can make SIBO and acne worse should be avoided during treatment.

When treating SIBO, it's important to avoid high FODMAP foods like garlic, onions, and wheat. These foods promote an overabundance of gut bacteria by providing fuel for existing bacteria.

When trying to treat acne, it's also a good idea to cut out sugar and processed foods. Acne-inducing sebum production increases in response to sugar consumption. Inflammation in the body from eating processed foods has been linked to acne.

When trying to clear up acne, dairy products should be avoided as well. Hormones in dairy products have been linked to hormonal imbalances and increased acne.


1. Can leaky gut cause acne?

Leaky gut, also known as intestinal permeability, is a condition in which harmful substances and bacteria are able to pass through the intestinal lining and enter the bloodstream. Acne can be exacerbated by the inflammation caused by this. Overloading the liver with bacteria and toxins that have leaked into the bloodstream can exacerbate skin problems.

2. Is acne a sign of poor gut health?

Since the gut and the skin are so intimately connected, acne can be an indicator of gastrointestinal distress. Acne can develop as a result of an increase in sebum production due to inflammation and hormonal imbalances caused by SIBO. Inflammation and its consequences for the skin can also be caused by toxins produced by gut bacteria.

3. Can IBS cause acne?

Abdominal pain, bloating, and a change in bowel habits are just some of the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a disorder of the large intestine. Although irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may not be the direct cause of acne, the stress and inflammation it causes may play a role in skin problems.


In conclusion, our gut microbiome's health has a major impact on whether or not we experience acne. Overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, known as small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), is associated with a number of dermatological conditions, including acne. Acne symptoms can be reduced if SIBO is treated with a change in diet and natural supplements. Acne sufferers would do well to investigate the state of their gut microbiome. A radiant complexion begins in the gut, so it's important to take care of it for overall health.


  1. Chilicka, K., Dzieńdziora-Urbińska, I., Szyguła, R., Asanova, B., & Nowicka, D. (2022). Microbiome and Probiotics in Acne Vulgaris—A Narrative Review. Life, 12(3), 422. ‌
  2. Inflammatory Acne: Symptoms, Types, Causes, Treatment. (n.d.). Cleveland Clinic. ‌
  3. Cleveland Clinic. (2021, October 24). Androgens: Function, Measurement and Related Disorders. Cleveland Clinic. ‌
  4. Thompson, K., Rainer, B. M., Antonescu, C., Florea, L., Mongodin, E. F., Kang, S., & Chien, A. L. (2020). Minocycline and Its Impact on Microbial Dysbiosis in the Skin and Gastrointestinal Tract of Acne Patients. 32(1), 21–30. ‌
  5. Magge, S., & Lembo, A. (2012). Low-FODMAP Diet for Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 8(11), 739–745. ‌


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