Many people suffer from both IBS and skin issues.

While it’s not clear if one condition causes the other, there are some theories about how they might be connected.

Read on to learn more about the possible link between acne and IBS and what you can do to promote good skin health.

What is adult acne?

Adult acne is not uncommon as more than 35% reported breakout symptoms and approximately 45% reported having breakouts.

There are several reasons for acne in adult skin, but the major factors are clogged pores, bacteria, and inflammation.

Acne often affects more than just the face as people can breakout on their backs, necks, chests, and arms.

Adult acne is more common in women than men, but it can affect anyone of any skin type or race.

Both adult acne and IBS can be treated.

What Causes Acne Formation?

Acne occurs when oil and dead cells get trapped within the pores.

Normally, our skin is designed to push oil and dirt out of the pore, but when that doesn’t happen acne can result.

Bacteria live in everyone’s skin and most people who breakout having more of these bacteria than others.

When the bacteria get into the pore, they can work with oil and dead cells to create a plug which is an ideal environment for acne formation.

There are many factors that play in to acne breakout including: hormone levels, environmental influences and stress.

Can IBS cause skin problems?

IBS patients are indeed more likely to suffer from certain skin conditions like acne.

IBS is evident when a patient finds themselves suffering from chronic severe abdominal pain and discomfort, frequent bouts of bowel movements, and issues with their digestive system like diarrhea or constipation.

There are many conditions that can trigger IBS symptoms. These include things like:

  • Stress
  • Eating too many high FODMAP foods
  • Eating processed and refined foods
  • Infections in the gastrointestinal tract
  • Overuse of antibiotics
  • Drinking too much caffeine

All these factors act as triggers to irritable bowel syndrome resulting in issues with their digestive system.

How can Irritable Bowel Syndrome affect the skin?

Doctors aren’t sure about the cause of IBS but the symptoms are very familiar to most of the patients. These include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea.

A flare-up can cause several hours of suffering. Many people aren’t aware of the trigger foods that cause this type of pain.

IBS may lead to additional skin problems like Rosacea wrinkles and acne.

It also causes stress and anxiety that puts the human body into ‘fight or flight’ mode.

Do hormones make IBS worse?

It’s possible that hormones can make IBS worse since the fluctuation of hormones during menstruation and menopause are known to cause changes in bowel habits.

Some people find that their IBS symptoms improve when they take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) during menopause. Others find that their symptoms get worse.

Estrogen levels cause fullness in the gut and relaxes the intestines. So, a drop in estrogen can be a trigger for IBS patients.

This is opposite to what women experience before their periods as they have constipation episodes due to high estrogen levels the month.

Hormone fluctuations from pregnancy or menopause also contribute to tiredness, depression, decreased digestive movement and slowed metabolism among other things.

More research is needed to determine whether or not there is a link between hormones and IBS.

Can you get itchy skin with IBS?

Researchers at Flinders University have discovered receptors that cause itchy skin also exist in the human gut and activate neurons.

Because of this, IBS patients may feel like they’re experiencing chronic pain or a seriously burning sensation of their abdomen.

IBS causes the digestive tract to spasm, which can lead to stomach pain, cramping, bloating and diarrhea.

It also triggers a condition called dysbiosis, in which the ‘good’ bacteria that reside naturally in your gut become disrupted.

This can lead to leaky gut syndrome or intestinal permeability, causing undigested food particles from entering your bloodstream.

When these particles circulate throughout your system, they reveal themselves as foreign invaders to your immune system.

This triggers a cascade of inflammation reactions throughout the body including an itchy reaction on the surface of the skin.

It’s important to remember that not everyone has itchy skin with IBS.

If you feel like your gut or skin hurts all over, there’s a good chance you have the condition.

Can IBS cause acne rosacea?

There is some evidence that suggests there may be a link between IBS and rosacea.

IBS is a gastrointestinal disorder that may lead to an increase in the production of stomach acids, which could then lead to the development of rosacea.

Some people with IBS report that their acne gets worse when they have flare-ups of their IBS symptoms.

Additionally, certain medications for IBS (like antibiotics) may also trigger or worsen acne rosacea symptoms.

Rosacea patients often have flushing and red skin around a small vein on the face.

Rosacea is often seen if inflammation and histamine are high, and these can appear when someone is ill.

When there is insufficient nutrients for skin, this is likely to cause rosacea since we know IBS patients often have difficulty in taking nutrients efficiently.

Some of the potential causes of rosacea include:

  • Abnormal facial blood vessels
  • Bacteria overgrowth on the skin
  • Chronic intestinal inflammation
  • Excessive sun exposure
  • Hormonal changes
  • Immunologic factors
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Poor digestive health

Can IBS leave your skin feeling dry?

IBS can leave your skin feeling dry because it leads to problems with absorption.

This can lead to deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals.

These deficiencies can cause your skin to dry out and become irritated.

There are a few things you can do to help improve the condition of your skin if you suffer from IBS.

First, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water to avoid skin dehydration.

You should also ensure that you’re getting enough essential vitamins and minerals through your diet. Eating too many processed foods can lead to skin issues and IBS flare-ups.

Some good sources of these nutrients include fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and healthy fats.

Finally, be sure to use a good moisturizer on your skin regularly to help keep it hydrated.

How Do I Get Healthy Skin?

The most important factor to get healthy skin is to make healthy dietary and lifestyle adjustments.

Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables will provide your body with the nutrients it needs to look and feel its best. Avoid eating too many processed foods.

You should only include the best foods in your diet to avoid any reactions with IBS symptoms.

For example, you can take a probiotic supplement to balance gut bacteria which may help reduce inflammation.

Exercising regularly is also important as it helps improve circulation and boosts collagen production, which keeps skin looking young and healthy.

And finally, don’t forget to drink plenty of water each day since skin dehydration can lead to dry, cracked skin.


As you can see, it’s important to be mindful of any skin problems that might arise if you have IBS

While there is no clear answer as to whether IBS can cause acne, it seems that for some people, the two conditions are related.

If you are experiencing skin issues, it’s a good idea to speak with your doctor to rule out any other potential causes and get advice on how to care for your skin.

In the meantime, we suggest trying some of our tips for having healthy skin, including eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water, and using gentle skincare products.

If you are struggling with both, it might be worth trying a probiotic supplement to see if that helps clear up your skin.

We have a list of good probiotics for IBS on our website, so be sure to check them out.

About the Author

Isabella Benn is the lead copywriter and content wizard at Health Apes with an expertise in health research. She specializes in gut health, nutrition, food and recipes.