Probiotics are live microbes that are considered good for your body. Your body contains trillions of them. And every person's collection of microbes, called a microbiome, is different.
Since the 1990s, scientists have been studying how gut microbes affect different diseases like psoriasis. Recent research suggests that taking probiotics may help improve the condition.
Does it work?
People with psoriasis often have higher amounts of inflammation-causing bacteria in their intestine. Adding beneficial bacteria to your diet might balance your intestine's bacterial mix. This is because probiotics stimulate your body’s T cells. Your T cells are responsible for regulating the immune system. They can also reduce inflammation.
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- vaginal and urinary tract yeast infections
- rheumatoid arthritis
Specific gut microbes may have other benefits beyond the intestine. For people with psoriasis, this may mean reduced skin inflammation.
One 2012 case study looked at the probiotic treatment of a woman with pustular psoriasis. Her psoriasis wasn’t responding to traditional treatments, so medical professionals explored other options.
She was put on the probiotic Lactobacillus. This is generally used in the production of yogurt, cheese, and fermented foods. Within two weeks, her lesions began to subside.
A 2013 study looked at the effects of the probiotic Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 on people with psoriasis. Researchers concluded taking the oral probiotic reduced the biomarkers for inflammation.
Although there is promising evidence, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t yet approved probiotics to treat any disease. More research is needed to find out which strains of probiotics are most helpful.
Probiotics and you
Adding probiotic-rich foods to your diet is an easy way to introduce these bacteria into your system. Probiotic bacteria are commonly found in the following:
- fermented cheeses, such as Gouda, cheddar, Swiss, and parmesan
- sourdough bread
- acidophilus milk
You may also consider taking a probiotic supplement. If you do take a supplement, consult your doctor. Together you can choose the best option and select an appropriate supplement for your needs. Be sure to discuss any other medications or supplements you may be taking.
Traditional treatments for psoriasis depend on the severity of the outbreak, where it is on your body, and how well you respond to a particular treatment.
For light to moderate outbreaks, treatment usually starts with topical ointments and creams. These may contain corticosteroids, coal tar, or vitamins A or D. Some topical treatments are prescription-only items, and others are available over the counter.
More severe outbreaks may be treated with systemic drugs, immune suppressants, or biologics. A combination of these medications may also be used. Phototherapy and laser therapies can also be effective when combined with other treatments.
When you have a psoriasis flare, take note of your overall status at the time of onset. This includes any medications you’re taking, any food or drink you’ve had, and any activities you may be participating in. This will help you identify potential triggers.
Stress, smoking, and certain medications are known triggers. Some people also report that heat, certain foods, perfumes, or chemicals can set off a psoriasis flare.
If you decide to add probiotics to your psoriasis regimen, keep a log to record what probiotics you add and any results you experience. This will help you track any changes or improvements.
In the meantime, stick to your psoriasis regimen. Keep your skin lubricated and clean, use the recommended ointments, and take any prescribed oral medications on schedule. If you experience any unusual symptoms, see your doctor.