Looking in the mirror wasn't always easy for 24-year-old acne patient Danielle Schwarz.

The treatment plan: traditional acne therapy, plus a daily dose of probiotics.

I would say now that I rarely have breakouts, Schwarz added.

It's a prescription for healthy skin that a growing number of dermatologists are recommending.

There's accumulating evidence now showing that oral and topical probiotics can actually significantly benefit chronic skin conditions, including things like eczema, acne, rosacea, said Dr. Whitney Bowe.

The theory is that diet and stress can slow down digestion, creating an overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria in the gut.

By introducing healthy bacteria into the gut, it can actually re-seal the gut lining and prevent system wide inflammation that's thought to lead to acne and rosacea flares, Bowe explained.

Early research shows some topical probiotics can protect and soothe the skin. Some even kill germs.

They're like little missiles that can punch holes in the walls of harmful bacteria, viruses and fungi, added Bowe.

Some patients are even finding success with homemade yogurt and kefir masks.

Whenever I have a flare up, I try to apply it and wear it as long as I can until my skin calms down, said rosacea patient Linda Sampson.

While the data on probiotics is promising, some doctors aren't sold.

I would like to see more research that are randomized and placebo controlled in both oral and topical probiotics. I'd also like to see research on which exact probiotics are helpful and in what frequency and in what application, said Dr. Amy Derick.

Dr. Bowe says until those studies on topical products are completed, patients should talk to their dermatologist about adding probiotic foods or supplements to their diet.

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