Candida and yeast overgrowth in the gut is one factor that many dermatologists overlook.
It is real and it can make your skin look bad. Furthermore if you have both, acne and candida overgrowth you may want to avoid any antibiotic medications. Not until you have solved the candida part of the problem.
If your dermatologist prescribes you anti-acne antibiotics and you have an active candida issue, prepare for the worse.
But how on earth could you know if you have Candida overgrowth and if so how can you treat it? Easy, have a read bellow.
A Few Words About Candida
Candida is a form of yeast naturally found in the human body. You will meet candida in various places of the body including your skin, your gut and your mouth. This is perfectly normal as candida species are part of our oral, intestinal and skin flora. Candida is a potential pathogen, meaning that as far as it is under control it’s ok but if it gets out of control then it “transforms” into a pathogen and causes problems.
In healthy individuals the immune system keeps candida in check. Also other microorganisms living in the same locations compete with candida and keep its numbers low. Balance between candida and these microorganisms is important for optimum skin, gut and oral health.
In the gut micro-ecosystem, together with candida there are literally thousands of different species of microorganisms coexisting. The balance is very delicate. Many things can upset that balance, some factors include:
- Diet – Especially Radical Diet Changes / A consistently bad diet can also lead to chronic imbalance in the gut
- Cosmetic Products
- Medications and Drugs
- Chronic Stress
In most people once the balance is lost, it can be restored gradually without any serious health problems. Take for example the last time you have taken antibiotic medication. Antibiotics are known to cause imbalances in the gut. But most people have no problem restoring the natural flora of their intestines after antibiotic medication without any need for supplements, drugs or special diets.
Sometimes things are not that easy. In long-term periods of medication or in cases of immunosuppression diseases such as HIV things can go bad.
Reasons why candida gets out of control are:
- Mononucleosis (A type of Herpes)
- Cancer Treatments
- Antibiotics (Tetracycline is frequently prescribed in acne patients)
- Nutrient Deficiency
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (Estrogen)
- Birth control pills
- Immunosuppressive drugs (Usually given after Transplants or for autoimmune diseases)
- Impaired Immunity
If you Identify yourself in anyone of the above categories you might be in danger for a candida overgrowth. Don’t worry though since prevention and healing is easy with the help of specific foods, herbs, supplements and/or drugs.
Candidiasis comes in different types and appears in different places. Not every type of candidiasis is of the same severity.
Types Of Candidiasis:
- Mucosal candidiasis
- Cutaneous candidiasis
- Onychomycosis (nail infection)
- Invasive candidiasis
- Antibiotic candidiasis
The most talked type of candidiasis around the web is Invasive candidiasis. Invasive candidiasis occurs when candida makes its way into the bloodstream leading to systemic and disseminated candidiasis. This is a very serious and life threatening condition. If you believe you suffer from an invasive type of candida seek medical attention ASAP!
Even though invasive candidiasis is quite rare, we can’t say the same thing about the other types. For example vaginal yeast infection which falls under the mucusal category. This kind of yeast infection affects 3 out of 4 women in western countries, at least once it their lifetime!
So could localized candida infections lead or aggravate acne? Could a vaginal yeast infection or a paronychia link to acne?
Is there such a thing as Candida Acne?
As we’ve seen Candida can appear as a localized infection or in the bloodstream. The later one being a life threatening situation; patients won’t live long enough to have their acne bothering them. So what about the localized infections?
I believe that localized candida infections (gut excluded) are unlikely to directly cause or aggravate acne in the long run. Not that there aren’t any cases which link chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis with acne.1)Autosomal Dominant Familial Chronic Mucocutaneous Candidiasis Associated with Acne Rosacea
But lets leave chronic candidiasis aside for a while. If you suffer or have suffered once in the past from a localized candida/yeast infection, don’t worry. Probably this has nothing to do with your acne nor does it means that you have candida “overgrowth syndrome”.
But! If you suffer from chronic candidiasis of any type, from frequent yeast infections or you have digestive problems that’s a whole another story. Moreover you might suffer from none of these and still have “candida issues”. As Mark Hyman MD beautifully puts it:
Our bodies weren’t designed with an “on” or “off” switch for disease. All diseases occur in shades of gray along a continuum of imbalance along spectrum of disease.
What this means is that you might have a small candida issue that doesn’t qualify (yet) as a medical condition. It might stay in this minor state for long time until it actually manifests itself as a real (read serious) problem.
Candida Overgrowth & Gut Imbalance
A common issue among acne patients is digestive problems. Bad digestive health maybe the No1 reason people get acne in the first place. People often don’t realize how important it is to keep their digestive tract happy. They think of it as a machine or factory that you throw in stuff and the machine keeps the good discards the bad.
Your gut is far more complicated, in your gut there are thousands of different species of micro-organisms who coexist. The digestive tract is more like a small town or a village. All kinds of people (micro-organisms) doing all sorts of jobs (or lazy ones not working at all), criminals, racists, liberals, conservatives, good people, bad people. Now imagine that you are the mayor and responsible for almost everything in this community.
As a mayor you are don’t need to micromanage every small crisis. Just like a small town your gut ecosystem can handle small crisis that arise here and there. But you have to manage the whole well. If you lean towards a specific group and constantly supplying them with special privileges, problems will find you sooner or later. Let’s say that in our example, the elders represent candida in your gut.
What will happen if your community only looks after for the elder ones? Slowly the disappointed youth will start leaving for other places. The workforce will get smaller and smaller and the local economy will shrink. The same goes for your gut.
If you help candida grow while ignoring other species of microorganisms who live there, this slowly will cause the other species to decrease in number and even go extinct! With the only difference that elder people don’t multiply while candida does and in a very fast pace.
Luckily our immune system (aka the local police) is aware of candida and keeps its numbers in check most of the time. But every once in a while candida can get out of control. As we’ve seen in cases of impaired immunity candida can flourish. There are a few more factors that help candida flourish and potentially cause trouble, these factors complement our previous list:
- A High Fat Diet
- A High Carb Diet
- A Low Fiber Diet
The reason I list these three separated is because I want us to pay special attention to them. These three are under our control and way more manageable than diabetes and HIV. It also happens that most people feed on a diet that consists of all three factors above. High in carb, high in fat (usually trans fat and very bad omega-6/omega-3 balance) and very low on fiber.
This kind of diets can contribute to overgrowth of candida in you digestive tract and in this way lead or worsen acne indirectly (will explain soon). Candida overgrowth is not as common as most alternative medicine practitioners suggest, but it is real. 2)
The Role of Candida Albicans in Human Illness
Considering almost all acne patients have digestive problems and suffer from zinc deficiency (read weaker immune system), candida overgrowth is a serious factor you should consider investigating.
The Microbe Organ
Before we go on it is important for you to know that our current knowledge of the gut ecosystem is poor and all these things we will talk about are roughly estimations. Current Lab tests still give many false results. Many of the current studies used these same tests to examine their participants. Our current measurements of gut flora are far from perfect.
Apart from lab tests there are other difficulties too. The gut flora has so big diversity in microorganisms and body functions going on which makes the system extremely complex and chaotic. The chain reactions happening there make predictions very-very hard to come with. All predictions (of a diet/medication) are based on large scaled studies that seem to work. But not for everyone, after all as we’ve said many of these studies had no access to accurate measurement tools.
New technologies will shed light in matters we have never been able to research before. Technologies for in vivo studies and other techniques of gut flora measurement are being developed and tested as we speak.3)The metabolic basis of Candida albicans morphogenesis
and quorum sensing The future is going to be bright and the “Amazon” of our gut will slowly be revealed. Just keep in mind as you read the rest, that we are only in the 1% of our gut flora exploration.
Refined Sugars – Carbs and Ketosis
A high carb – high glycemic load diet is one of the classic reasons people develop acne. The elevated levels of insulin caused by high sugar, disrupt hormonal balance in critical hormones which have a direct effect on the formation of pimples. If you are on a high carb/high glycemic load diet, chances are you’ll get acne, with or without candida.
But a high carb diet can also help candida keep growing in your gut. In contrast to what most people think though a high carb diet is not bad because candida feeds on it. Beneficial bacteria and also humans get energy from carbohydrates. The problem is that Candida and yeasts in general can feed on various things, including complex carbs and fats!
The focus should be on the type of carbs and fats you throw in. Some types of carbohydrates need to be broken down before are ready to be absorbed into the body. For this to happen properly your gut must be working properly and the gut cells (enterocytes) to be able do their job well.
What happens with Candida is that while your gut tries to break down disaccharides and starch molecules into simpler forms, candida (and other pathogens) are already “eating”! The slower the digestion the more candida eats. Furthermore in cases of inflammation and already existing overgrowth of candida, the broke down of carbs is even slower!
Now overload the system with excess complex-carb input and this is how you feed candida.
Also here it is worth to mention that the myth that refined sugars feed candida is not very valid. As we described earlier, candia has the upper hand because of its ability to feed on complex carb molecules. In the case of refined sugars your gut doesn’t need to brake down anything since refined sugars are carbs in their simplest form. Candida will still be fed in this case, but at least it wont take the lion share in this case. (here include the study that suggests simple sugars have no effect on candida overgrowth )
However refined sugars seem to slow digestion and increase inflammation, two factors that both can help candida grow.
It is not that refined carbs feed candida, they just set the environment in such a way that candida can flourish.4)Limited effect of refined carbohydrate dietary supplementation on colonization of the gastrointestinal tract of healthy subjects by Candida albicans
If you suffer from candida, starch-rich foods, foods with complex carbs and refined carbs are usually a no-go. But as it has been mentioned earlier candida can be fed also by other compounds, including lipids for example (high-fat is also a no-go). There is one more very important compound that candida can get energy from.
This compound is the ketone body. If it sounds familiar you guessed it right. This is where the ketogenic diet took its name from. If you go into an extreme low-carb diet/no-carb diet your metabolism will shift from glucose to ketone “burning”. Ketones are the main energy source when you are in ketosis and are product fat breakdown.
So far so good, worst case scenario you lose a few pounds on this diet, right? Well here there is a twist, beneficial gut bacteria can not survive on a strict “ketone diet”. That means that on a ketogenic diet you’ll starve to death many helpful bacteria. While yeast will still be there, happily standing firm seeing the competition gets wiped out. In cases of candida overgrowth keto diet can cause serious gut imbalance! Even lead to a more serious form of candididasis and can even find its way into the bloodstream!
Ketogenic-Low Carb diets are also a No-go for those who have yeast problems.
Fiber Comes to The Rescue
The secret behind ketosis and the reason why people in ketosis don’t get candida overgrowth is fiber. When in ketosis people consume large enough quantities of fiber to keep their gut flora healthy. Fiber can be broken down by many bacteria in your gut which absorb energy from it.
Unfortunately for those with candida overgrowth the process of breaking down fiber leads to complex form of carbs. But this is no problem for healthy digestive tracts. Also yeast won’t develop in a ketogenic environment, it will just survive, it won’t grow.
Fiber is also useful in every kind of diet because in order to be processed, helpful gut bacteria must be there to break it down. These bacteria help our body fight pathogens including potential pathogens like candida.
Furthermore this way of energy production and absorption is way slower in comparison to simple sugars intake or any other form of carbohydrate intake. Fiber has a very small glycemic load, which combined with the slow absorption is great for those who want to keep their insulin levels stable. Last but not least are the by-products of the bacterial activity. In contrast with bacteria which help us digest meat, “fiber/vegan” bacteria tend to produce little to no toxic wastes.
These are just of the reason fiber helps our digestion and overall health. By stabilizing blood sugar and insulin levels and by giving space to healthy bacteria that produce little to no toxins.
Luck of fiber on the other hand can lead to an overgrowth of pathogens and harmful bacteria. The overgrowth of “bad guys” will wreck and inflame the gut, setting the scene for candida to flourish once again.
Unfortunately for those who already have a wrecked gut and candida overgrowth a fiber rich diet won’t do. They will need a specific carbohydrate diet with a moderate consumption of fiber. Not too much, not too little.
Leaky & Inflamed Gut – Candida and Acne
Speaking about inflamed and wrecked gut candida has a close connection with those two. Candida can worsen or cause leaky gut and inflammation.5)Inflammation and gastrointestinal Candida colonization The reverse can also happen, inflamed gut can also help candida grow.
Whatever aggravates inflammation in our bodies can also help candida grow. There are certain foods and products that irritate the digestive tract, cause leaky gut and ultimately cause inflammation too. These can help candida. Once candida starts to grow, then it will go on a vicious cycle.
Candida will trigger more inflammation and then this excessive inflammation will trigger more candida and so on. This process will also exhaust your adrenal glands which will have to work overtime to keep up with the demand.6)Inflammation and gastrointestinal Candida colonization
An inflamed gut in general is the perfect place for Candida to grow and for this you should be very careful on eating things that can trigger inflammation or wreak havoc in your gut in other ways.
The High Fat Diet
Now why a high fat diet is bad for Candida. For many reasons, first as we’ve seen before candida can feed on lipids while your body has to break them down before they are ready to be absorbed. A malfunctioning gut that works too slow and leaves parts of food undigested, literally feeds candida and other pathogens.
A healthy gut should have no problem handling fat from diet and breaking it down in time, so it can be absorbed. But once again, it is not only how much fat you eat. It is also the type of fats you eat. More important than the fat quantity is the fat quality.
One of your main concerns should be your omega 6/ omega 3 ratio. If this ratio is above 2:1 it won’t help you fight candida nor acne. High omega 6/omega 3 ratio usually leads to stronger inflammation response by the body. Inflammation is critical in candida and acne development, so this is something you have to be careful with.
The Role of Immune System On Dealing With Candida Acne
Most (70%) of our immune cells live in the digestive system. They combat viruses and pathogens that come in from the mouth. Candida a is potentially pathogen organism, meaning that it usually stays low causing no harm. But in various occasions can spread and grow into a pathogenic fungus.
Our immune system suppress the overgrowth of candida in our gut. This is why most of candida infections happen when people are given medication which affect the immune system, or when they suffer from a diseases such as AIDS.
Those with minor candida overgrowth probably don’t have the best immune system in the world. Usually the above factors combined with a slightly underperforming immune system will lead to a yeast overgrow in our gut.
If you have suspicions that you might be suffering from a minor overgrowth in your gut it is wise that you help your immune system deliver the results you desire. So it is not only your gut you should look after but also your immune system too. These too have to work together in order for candida and acne to go away.
Acne patients as we have said earlier usually suffer from zinc deficiency. In these circumstances a zinc supplement can make miracles boosting the immune system and restoring normal body functions.
Also if your immune system currently fights yeast in the gut it is possible that your skin becomes sensitive and overreacting to yeasts as well. This can cause more inflammation in your spots, irritation, redness, itchiness, etc..
This is probably where the bad advise of frequent washing originates from. Frequent washing can be bad and irritating for the skin. But wash your face once/day, keep your hands out of your face and you will half way preventing acne from going wild.
Symptoms of Candida Acne, Diagnosis & Lab Tests
The best place to start if you are worrying about candida is your doctors office. Discuss your symptoms and your medical history with him and he will point you to do any/or all of the tests bellow.
Blood testing is an indirect measurement for candida. It is actually a measurement of your immune system. The philosophy is that if you suffer from a Candida infection then you should have increased antibodies for candida.
This test gives false negatives from time to time. The bad news is that this test provides no information on the location of the infection. Also it doesn’t tell you if you have candida infection in multiple locations. This is why most of the time you’ll do a stool testing too.
Stool testing (depending on the lab) can be more accurate than blood testing. If order a comprehensive stool test you can also find out the species of candida you might have in your colon. This test does not give many false positives but it can sometimes give false negatives. So if it comes negative keep in mind that there is a good chance it is a false negative.
Urine Organix Dysbiosis Test
This test is good for identifying candida overgrowth in the upper gut and small intestines. It measures a by-product of candida metabolism called D-Arabinitol.
Of Similar Importance are also the clinical symptoms of a candida infection and candida overgrowth. Some of the symptoms are pretty generic and could fall into a big variety of health problems.
Symptoms that indicate Candida Issues:
- Do you have active Fungal infections of any kind ?
- Do you have Skin Rashes ?
- Are your nails kind of yellow/orange ?
- Do you suffer from vaginal infections, urinary tract infections ?
- Do you have rectal itching or vaginal itching ?
- Do you have a history of Fungal Infections (Athletes foot, etc..) ?
- Do you have chronic dandruff problems ?
- Does your tongue has a white/yellowish hue ?
- Do you feel tired or suffer from chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia ?
- Do you have digestive issues (bloating, constipation and diarrhea) ?
- Do you have lots of flatulence ?
- Do you suffer from Autoimmune diseases ?
- Is it difficult for you to concentrate ?
- Do you have poor memory ?
- Are you diagnosed ADD, ADHD and brain fog ?
- Do you have mood swings, anxiety, or depression ?
- Do you have severe seasonal allergies ?
- Do you have sugar and carbohydrate cravings ?
If you are negative to the tests above and you don’t show any symptoms then you don’t have candida issues for sure. Your acne is triggered by other factors. You should search elsewhere, go a little bit more generic and have a look at your overall digestive health.
Candida & Tetracycline (antibiotic) Treatment for Acne
Use of antibiotics is one of the common causes of candida overgrowth. Unfortunately antibiotics are commonly used against acne. If you are about to take antibiotic treatment for acne it is good that you make sure your gut is healthy. Also probiotic intake would be helpful during antibiotic treatment.
If you already have a candida overgrowth in your gut and your doctor prescribes you tetracycline for you acne, well it is not going to end well.
Healing Candida Might Not Be Enough
Healing candida overgrowth in your gut is a step to improve the health and looks of your skin. But as far as acne is concerned you are not done yet. Acne is a disease caused by many different factors and you have to address them all if you want to get rid of it.
Your gut health is key if you want a good looking skin. Candida might not be the only thing that is going on there. You might also suffer from other gut problems you don’t know. Do a little bit of research there.
Keep healthy omega 6/omega 3 ratio and healthy insulin levels even after you are done with candida. It will help you balance your hormones and calm inflammation. Both of them affect acne development.
- Avoid High Carb and Low Carb Diets, you should rather aim for a GAPS diet or something similar.
- Avoid A Low Fiber diet. If you currently experience candida problems, avoid very high fiber diet too. See GAPS and SCD
- Avoid High Fat Diets and pay special attention to Omega 6/Omega 3 ratio. Make sure it’s close to the 2:1 ideal.
- Wash your face once or twice a day (no more) and make sure you don’t touch your face throughout the day.
- Take your Vitamin C, Zinc and other important minerals to keep your body in perfect health and most importantly your Immune System Happy.
- Avoid irritating foods that can cause leaky gut and inflammation
- Use Anti-fugal herbs and medication if needed.
- Wipe out drugs that are not absolutely necessary in your life.
- Watch the video above
Some Final Thoughts
Even if you don’t have candida, having acne indicates that your gut suffers. It can be another pathogen or it can be a combination of different factors. Remember that it is not only pathogens that upset your gut but also imbalances. Imbalances in the gut flora also cause health problems and acne.
If you want a beautiful skin, make sure you have a beautiful digestive tract, as strange as this might sound. 🙂
- Candida and Yeast Infection Treatment
- Is Stress Wrecking Your Gut?
- Is Hidden Fungus Making You ill?
- Don’t Waste Your Time: Why the Candida Diet Doesn’t Work
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