Can SIBO Cause Acne? The Role of Gut Health

Can SIBO Cause Acne? The Role of Gut Health

Many people who deal with acne turn to cosmetic products as a first step towards clearing it. While many types of acne can be healed with topical treatments, including retinoids and acids, some just won’t go away no matter how thoroughly you clean your face. If this sounds like you, it’s time to start looking for underlying problems.

SIBO can cause acne by triggering changes in your gut microbiome. A gut microbiome in dysbiosis will increase inflammation in your body and may trigger health problems like acne and rosacea. Research shows that gut health and acne are strongly related.

If you’ve tried every acne-clearing product under the sun to no avail, you may be dealing with acne triggered by SIBO. Keep reading to learn more about what SIBO is, how it’s caused, how it could be causing your acne, and, most importantly, how to treat it.  

What Is SIBO?

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is a gastrointestinal disease that results from an excess of bacteria in the small intestine. This is considered an imbalance of gut bacteria, so effective treatments involve a greater focus on gut health. 

 SIBO usually causes a whole host of gastrointestinal issues, such as:

  • Bloating
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Gas
  • Nausea
  • Belching

If you have acne and experience any of the symptoms above, you may be dealing with SIBO. 

Causes of SIBO

SIBO is typically caused by hypochlorhydria, which happens when you have low stomach acid. As you know, one of the most critical roles of stomach acid is to break down food before it enters your digestive tract. If there is not enough acid to properly break down the food you eat, your digestive system won’t be able to digest your food properly. 

One of the biggest problems of low stomach acid is that it allows large carbohydrates to enter the digestive tract. Undesirable strains of bacteria feed off of these carbohydrates, helping them reproduce quickly. This is where the bacteria overgrowth part of SIBO happens. 

Once you’ve got bacterial overgrowth in your small intestine, you’ll experience all kinds of digestive problems. These happen as the linings of your small intestine get blocked up with bacteria, preventing your digestive tract from doing its job efficiently. 

Skin Conditions Caused by SIBO

Beyond digestive problems, SIBO can also cause other potentially-harmful problems. Perhaps surprisingly, your skin could be one of the primary victims of SIBO. Read on to learn what skin conditions can be caused by SIBO.


You know the sayin, “you are what you eat”? Well, more precisely, you are what you digest. Everyone knows that diet is a vital part of beauty, but what can you do when your body is unable to digest what you are feeding it? 

This is how SIBO can end up causing acne. By disrupting your nutrient absorption, SIBO could disrupt your gut microbiota. This can trigger issues like inflammation and malabsorption that could lead to skin problems like acne. 

In fact, there are several studies that confirm a strong link between SIBO and acne. A study published in the Gut Pathogens Journal found that people with acne are ten times more likely to suffer from SIBO. 

Similarly, a study found that more than half of people with acne also had a gut bacteria imbalance. Therefore, if you suffer from acne, it is more likely than not that you also suffer from a gut in dysbiosis.


Rosacea is a skin condition that triggers flushing or rashes on the skin surface. Typical treatments for rosacea include antibiotics and other topical creams, although SIBO could also be at fault for rosacea.

Several studies have found comorbidity between rosacea and SIBO. Up to 66% of patients who suffer from rosacea also suffer from SIBO, making it highly likely that the presence of one condition signals the presence of the other. 

Fortunately, studies also show that eradication of SIBO is generally a successful treatment for SIBO. An Italian study found that the elimination of SIBO completely cleared up rosacea symptoms in 71% of its participants, demonstrating that SIBO treatment is an effective treatment against rosacea in a majority of the population.  

Can Treating SIBO Clear My Acne?

Most prescription treatments for acne involve the use of antibiotics. These antibiotics help clear up acne by removing overgrowth bacteria from the small intestine. Reduced overgrowth bacteria will ameliorate the symptoms of SIBO, such as inflammation and acne.

However, consistent use of antibiotics will lead to deteriorated gut health, which may worsen your gut dysbiosis. This can trigger even more bacteria overgrowth, which will increase your need for antibiotics. This will create a vicious cycle that could wreak havoc on your gut flora. 

A long-term solution for SIBO involves healing your gut to balance your gut bacteria. Although antibiotics can be helpful for short-term results, focusing on your gut health will help you get rid of SIBO (and consequently, acne) for good.

How to Heal Your Gut to Clear Your Acne

If you suspect you have SIBO that is causing your acne, you should invest some time and energy into healing your gut dysbiosis. Not only will this help you clear up your acne, but it will help immensely with your overall health. 

Here are some of the things you can do today to heal your gut to clear your acne:

  • Eat more diversely. Eating a wider variety of plant-based foods is the top thing you could do to balance your gut. This doesn’t mean just eating more plants, but eating a wider variety of plants. Focus on eating many different colours of plants too in order to get more nutrients!
  • Exercise regularly. Regular moderate exercise can help your digestive system work more efficiently. This will make it easier for your gut bacteria to turn your fibre into short-chain fatty acids, which is exactly what you’d want.
  • Eat more fermented foods. Fermented foods like miso, kimchi, and kefir are natural probiotics. They will help introduce new strains of bacteria to your gut, which will help you keep a well-balanced microbiota.
  • Get more sleep. Sleep has been found to be correlated with a diverse gut. While specifics haven’t yet been figured out, evidence shows that this is a bidirectional relationship. In other words, sleeping will balance your gut, and balancing your gut will help you sleep. 

Working in the four tips above into your lifestyle will bring about significant gut health improvements. If your acne is indeed caused by SIBO, you should eventually see a significant reduction of your acne as your SIBO starts to clear up.

If you want even more science-backed tips on healing your gut, check out our ultimate guide to improving your gut health

SIBO and Your Gut Health May Be Affecting Your Skin Condition

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is a gastrointestinal condition that is present in most people who suffer from acne. Several studies have found that successful eradication of SIBO can also clear up skin conditions such as rosacea and acne. If you have tried using topical creams to clear up your acne without good results, it may pay off to focus on healing your gut.

If you’re ready to embark on a gut-healing journey to clear up your acne, download the OSbiome app. Our app is designed to motivate you to complete daily tasks for your gut health. We’ve reviewed hundreds of gut health studies to provide you with daily, actionable tips for a better gut microbiome. Download the app today and start working on your gut flora!