Candida is the ultimate boogey man of the natural health movement. Even casual search reveals that it’s blamed for a wide variety of diseases, acne among others. In this article we ask is there any truth to these claims? Does Candida really cause acne? And the answer is that though Candida infection is real, the scope and seriousness of it has been blown out of proportions – in most cases by people who want to sell you anti-Candida supplements. Real scientific and medical evidence doesn’t support the claims that systemic Candida infection is an undiagnosed problem affecting most of us. And the link between Candida and acne stems more from similar root causes than any causal relationship. In other words, it’s unlikely that Candida causes acne.
There’s also a separate Candida spit test page, if you are looking for information about it. The spit test, by the way, is in no way reliable diagnostic tool for Candida.
Systemic Candida and acne
Most natural health websites claim that systemic Candida infection is vastly undiagnosed condition that causes a broad range of symptoms, acne being one of them. Systemic Candida infection means that Candida has invaded your body and is found in bloodstream and in organs.
This is unlikely for two reasons. First, systemic Candida usually occurs in people with severely compromised immune system. Healthy immune system keeps Candida growth in check. Systemic Candida is usually only seen in patients with HIV, people undergoing cancer treatment, or people with otherwise severely compromised immune function.
Second, most people with systemic Candida die. Mortality estimates vary from 45% to 75%.
Dr. Andrew Weil expressed this well.
Diagnoses of systemic candidiasis usually have no scientific basis, and most of the recommended treatments for it waste time and money. Anyone with yeast growing in the blood or vital organs would be critically ill in an intensive care unit. Despite this medical reality, systemic candidiasis remains a popular diagnosis in some segments of the alternative medicine community.
Clearly this is not the case with most people fighting ‘systemic Candida infection’ with ‘alternative’ therapies.
Furthermore most doctors and medical organizations dismiss the claims of systemic Candida infection as being speculative and without research supporting them. And, mind you, this is not because Candida is not being researched. You can easily find thousands and thousands of studies on Candida.
Candida and acne have similar causes
One reason why acne victims think that their skin problems are caused by Candida is because Candida and acne have similar causes. For example, among causes of Candida are:
- Diabetes and other blood sugar irregularities
- Use of oral contraceptives and other hormonal treatments
- Long-term use of antibiotics
Most of these could also be linked to acne. For example the association of acne and blood sugar irregularities is well-known. These blood sugar irregularities cause imbalances in hormones that then lead to acne. These are the same hormones that oral contraceptive treatment tries to balance.
Given that Candida and acne have similar causes are we not confusing correlation with causation? Maybe it’s just that Candida and acne appear at the same time because both have similar underlying causes.
How Candida could cause acne
Though both have similar causes it’s possible that Candida contributes to acne. Note that Candida in this case refers to Candida infection on the skin or in the gastrointestinal track. As discussed earlier, systemic Candida infection as cause for acne is highly unlikely.
Candida infection on the skin increases inflammation on the skin. This could easily lead to more acne. However skin infection of Candida is easy to diagnose, and easily treated with anti-fungal creams.
Candida in the gastrointestinal track could increase inflammation levels throughout the body. In a way it would affect your body similarly to how stress affects you. This could aggravate acne. Candida in the GI track can be treated with probiotics. Garlic also helps against Candida.
Association between Candida and acne
Candida infection on the skin can lead to acne. A German study of 44695 dermatology patients found that people with Candida had 30 to 60% more acne than people without Candida infection. This makes sense because Candida increases inflammation on the skin.
Candida and antibiotics
Many alternative and natural health websites claim that antibiotic treatment causes Candida almost automatically. These claims are just flat-out not true.
Candida infections due to long-term antibiotic use are possible, but not very common. A UK study looked into the safety of long-term use of high-dose minocycline in the treatment of acne. Subjects on the study were on minocycline on average 10.5 month.
Side-effects were recorded on 13.6% of the cases. Candida infection was among the reported side-effects. However the association was not statistically significant, so we can’t conclude with certainty that long-term use of minocycline actually increased the risk of Candida infections.
The most common side-effect was hyperpigmentation, that is acne scars.
So what’s the best course of action when it comes to Candida and acne? First, don’t panic. Most Candida information online is based on dubious sources. Furthermore it’s contradicted by credible scientific research. Conclusion, it’s just plainly wrong.
Most Candida websites also want to sell you Candida cleanses and pills. In most cases there are harmless, other than waste of time and money.
If you suspect that you have Candida infections, here are some things you could do. First, talk to your doctor. Skin and gastrointestinal Candida infections can be diagnosed and treated fairly easily. Other than talking to your doctor, you could:
- Take a high quality probiotic supplement for a month or two. This helps to re-establish healthy bacteria into your gut. The healthy bacteria can keep Candida in check.
- Take steps to normalize blood sugar and insulin levels. These steps include avoiding excessive carbohydrate consumption, exercising regularly and managing your stress levels.
These steps make sense even if you don’t have Candida infection – because they can also help with your acne problems.
- eMedicinehealth: Candidiasis Yeast Infection Overview
- WedMD: Candidiasis (Yeast Infection)
- Journal of Physiol Pharmacol. 2006 Nov;57 Suppl 9:35-49: Are probiotics effective in the treatment of fungal colonization of the gastrointestinal tract? Experimental and clinical studies.
- Can J Microbiol. 2010 Oct;56(10):816-21. Effect of diallyldisulphide on an antioxidant enzyme system in Candida species.
- Mycoses. 1995;38 Suppl 1:7-13. Mucocutaneous candidiasis in patients with skin diseases
- Br J Dermatol. 1996 Apr;134(4):693-5. Safety of long-term high-dose minocycline in the treatment of acne.