The gut is an immune system hub, containing the bulk of your body’s immune cells and a diverse microbiome. The bacteria living in your gut interact with immune cells – and this interaction is thought to have a direct impact on your body’s immune response. When the microbiome is out of balance, it can create a heightened response and in many cases, inflammation.
Altered inflammatory pathways in the skin are thought to be a significant contributor to common skin concerns like acne. In the case of acne, inflammation in the skin’s hair follicles and oil glands lead to increased secretion of oil, blocking follicles and creating an environment prone to overgrowth of certain bacteria like Cutibacterium acnes (or C. acnes for short). Immune cells in the skin react to this overgrowth of bacteria by launching an inflammatory response, leading to the pimples and lesions associated with acne.
Research suggests that the health of the gut microbiota may be connected to skin health through its impact on the immune system’s inflammatory response. A healthy gut microbiome can reduce the level of inflammation produced by immune cells in the gut – and these effects are transferred to the immune cells in the skin through the circulation of cytokines, a type of inflammatory chemical message.