Acne Rosacea

SIBO and the link to skin inflammation

Could small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) be the cause of Acne Rosacea?

Acne Rosacea is characterised by chronic inflammation of the central facial area and the eyes that causes social discomfort and can greatly reduce a person quality of life. In the USA it is thought up to 16 million people suffer from this widespread - but not well understood - condition.

Gastrointestinal disorders are very commonly reported by patients suffering with Acne Rosacea. This can range from bloating and flatulence, to acid reflux, abdominal cramping, as well as constipation and/or diarrhea. Rosacea is also often associated, or co-exists in cases of more serious digestive disorders such as celiac disease, gastritis, Crohn’s disease, and Helicobacter pylori infection, low stomach acid output (hypochlorhydria).

This curious association is most likely caused by mucosal inflammation in the digestive tract.

Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) has greatly been implicated in the development of Acne Rosacea.

SIBO is a condition in which the normal flora of the large intestine has migrated to the small intestine. The small intestine is the site of digestion and absorption, as well as mucosal immunity. Any bacterial overgrowth in this location can greatly impact nutritional absorption as well as systemic inflammation.

One research study looked at 113 patients with Acne Rosacea and 60 healthy control patients. 52 out of the 113 patients with rosacea tested positive for SIBO via the standard breath test versus only 3 out of the 60 controls. This showed that Acne Rosacea patients had a significantly higher SIBO prevalence than controls—50% of patients with rosacea had SIBO. After receiving specialised antibiotic treatment (Rifaximin for 10 days), eradication of the bacterial overgrowth induced an almost complete regression of Acne Rosacea and maintained excellent results for over 9 months in most Acne Rosacea patients ( Parodi et al. Am J Gastroenterol 2008;6:759-764)

This is exciting news for Rosacea sufferers who often only get marginal results with medications.

SIBO is easily tested using a breath test—this can be conveniently done at home. Treatment involves specific antibiotic therapy—either conventional or natural, as well as a restricted diet for a period of time to prevent relapse.