The link between acne and yeast overgrowth (candida) is a much talked about topic in the online community. As acne remains to be the most common skin disorder, the whole medical fraternity continues to seek more knowledge regarding its nature and treatment, while acne sufferers continue to do their own research to identify what might be the root cause of their acne and for alternative treatment options.
Candida as a cause of acne
Balch and Stengler (2004) in their book entitled “Prescription for Natural Cures: A Self-Care Guide for Treating Health” states that candida or yeast overgrowth can actually be an underlying root cause of acne.
It is suggested that candida may occur after long-term antibiotic use, which is particularly plausible when you consider the nature of conventional acne treatments such as internally taken antibiotic medication and externally applied antibiotic ointments or creams.
The paragraph below further explains the link between acne and yeast overgrowth (candida) and how long-term antibiotic treatment for acne can lead to a yeast overgrowth and then, how suffering with a yeast overgrowth can further exacerbate acne.
How acne can lead to a yeast overgrowth
Candida overgrowth can occur as a result of repeated, chronic antibiotic use for acne.
Candida (a genus of yeasts) is actually a natural microflora in the body’s skin and digestive track. However, although Candida has been residing in these areas of the body, it couldn’t cause any infection, as its population is controlled by other microorganisms (good bacteria).
Tetracycline’s, which are a broad spectrum of antibiotics prescribed by conventional dermatologists, such as minocycline or doxycycline, treat acne by wiping out bad bacteria from the body.
Unfortunately they cannot differentiate between good and bad bacteria. Therefore during long-term antibiotic use, the number of good bacteria also decreases, while Candida’s population remains to be unaffected (since antibiotics only affect bacteria and not yeasts).
Since candida no longer has competition for space and food in the body, it thrives and increases in population, thereby causing a yeast overgrowth.
Therefore irrespective of the actual root cause of a person’s acne, once antibiotics are used to treat the condition, the end result is likely to be a yeast overgrowth. Even if they are successful in addressing their root cause, once they have a yeast overgrowth their acne is likely to persist.
How candida can worsen acne
Candida or a yeast overgrowth may also possibly cause or aggravate a pre-existing acne condition. Once candida or a yeast overgrowth is already present in the body’s system, the body’s natural response is to initiate its immune processes by releasing chemicals that will fight off the infection in any area of the body where there is one, thereby causing inflammation.
As stated in online sources, someone who may not have acne but has a candida overgrowth may also possibly develop the condition. In this case, acne is considered as a response of the body to a yeast overgrowth in the form of inflammation.
Many options in treating acne caused by a candida overgrowth are circulating both online and in texts – with the main goal of controlling candida to let the acne (inflammation) subside.
These methods can be separated into two: conventional and natural. The conventional way includes using prescription medications to treat yeast infection such as antifungals.
The natural way includes diet modifications (less sugar; since yeast feed on glucose), detoxification, and the use of probiotics to increase the number of good bacteria residing in the gut, consequently re-balancing the ratio of good and bad bacteria and ensuring candida does not dominate and increase in population.
Although the link between acne and yeast overgrowth (candida) has not been fully solidified by research, there are testimonies of acne sufferers posted online that can support the possibility of this theory.
I can only speak from my own personal experience that I am confident my acne was made worse due to having a yeast overgrowth. My conventional dermatologist persistently treated my acne by prescribing antibiotics for over 5 years, which involved switching every 6 – 9 months as my body became immune to them and the effects wore off. Therefore I was given a different antibiotic that my body had not adapted too. (Any acne sufferer who has taken antibiotics will understand what I mean by this constant cycle of antibiotic use).
I also recall my acne was at its worst at the age of 26 whilst I was taking a course of doxycycline. At this time, I consulted a natural dermatologist who inspected my skin using a Skin Analyser machine and found that I had an overgrowth of yeast organisms residing on my skin.
I also consulted a naturopath who submitted a stool sample to a laboratory, where it was found that I had very low levels of good bacteria and a yeast overgrowth in my gut.
I decided to treat my yeast overgrowth naturally by doing a candida cleanse (detoxification), which involved a 3-week, low-sugar, low-carb, high protein diet and by taking probiotics to replenish my gut flora with good bacteria.
At first my acne got worse as I was experiencing the candida ‘die-off’, also known as herxheimers reaction, where my skin was accelerating the disposition of toxins through its pores.
After the three-week period, my skin had certainly improved, which was supported by the results of another stool sample that showed I had improved levels of good bacteria in my gut and no longer a yeast overgrowth. The link between acne and candida is supported by the Natural Dermatology approach that a poorly functioning liver, a poorly functioning gut and the body being overloaded with toxins, are the root cause of acne.
When there is a yeast overgrowth in the gut, this causes a great deal of internal stress and the overgrowth certainly increases the toxic burden on the body, resulting in the toxins being excretes through the pores of skin, leading to acne lesions.