What is IBS and What Causes It? Does it Affect My Skin?

What is IBS and What Causes It? Does it affect my skin? | Mirra Skincare

Get ready to giggle a bit, because this topic involves pooping haha. Yet, on a serious note, regular, healthy bowel movements are essential to a “living my best life” scenario. So learning what is IBS and how your bowel movements could possibly affect your skin is just a little extra knowledge to add to your arsenal.


1. What is IBS

2. Other Symptoms

3. The Skin Issue

4. Final Thoughts

Key Points

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome, also known as IBS, can cause abdominal pain, irregular bowl movements, and also acne.
  • Stress, inefficient waste removal, and gut issues from IBS can all cause skin issues.
  • Talk to your doctor about treating IBS and focus on managing your stress and diet at home to tend to your skin.

What is IBS

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) comes with a combination of symptoms that include abdominal pain and changes in bowel movements, which might include diarrhea, constipation, or both. You have these symptoms if you have IBS, but there are no physical or obvious signs of damage or disease in your digestive tract. IBS lowers patients' quality of life and has a significant negative impact on patients' and society's financial resources. The Rome Criteria, a symptom-based classification system, is used to diagnose IBS, with recently updated guidelines, Rome IV is the current version and answers the basic question what is IBS, in order to get a diagnosis of IBS.

Symptoms must be present for more than 6 months, be actively bothering you in the past 3 months for at least 1 day per week. Symptoms simply include abdominal pain and are associated with (2 or more):

  1. Related to defecation
  2. Associated with change in form of stool
  3. Associated with change in the frequency of stool

Other symptoms

  • Persistent pain that isn't relieved by passing gas or a bowel movement
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea 
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Iron deficiency 
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Unexplained vomiting
  • Acne - IBS can develop or aggravate spots and blemishes, especially if constipation is one of your main symptoms. If your bowels are not effectively clearing waste and things are backed up, poisons and waste products will have to escape your body through another way. Mucous membranes, menstrual blood, and the skin are potential escape pathways for waste within the body.

    The Skin Issue

    The prevalence rate of IBS in North America is estimated to be around 12%, with symptoms occurring more frequently in people under the age of 50. (Worldwide it is an estimated 8.1%, which is interesting). Many patients with IBS not only have gastrointestinal problems, but about 40–60 percent of them also record issues including depression, anxiety and acne*. Acne and IBS are incredibly common and also incredibly difficult to eliminate because their root cause is somewhat mysterious (it could be one causes the other, vice versa or neither). However, one thing seems to be clear from the research and that is, stress is bad. Therefore, it may be that by practicing some mindfulness, (heres a few ideas) you can also relieve some seriously irritating issues. 

    It has been about 150 years since the “discovery” of IBS when a doctor recorded “The bowels are at one time constipated, another lax, in the same person. How the disease has two such different symptoms I do not profess to explain.” But the cure to IBS is arguably no more clear. Physiological and psychological factors have been recognized as playing a role in the cause and persistence of symptoms, emphasizing the brain-gut communication in IBS patients.

    Yet, despite progress in understanding the biology of IBS through research, treatment strategies are still symptom-driven. Since it has been discovered that our mental state can contribute to this syndrome, we have both pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatment options.

    Doctors do a physical exam and analyze your symptoms, as well as your medical and family history, to diagnose irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Your doctor will examine your symptoms for a pattern. Doctors may perform testing to rule out other health issues in some circumstances.

    Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be treated with dietary adjustments and other lifestyle changes, as well as medications, probiotics, and mental health therapy. It's possible that you'll have to try a few different therapies to find the one that works best for you. Your doctor can assist you in determining the best course of action.

    While mental disturbances may very well be the root of your IBS or acne, many believe dietary changes could be the root. Some of the possible links that have been found between acne and IBS are sugar, alcohol, dairy and gluten. Cutting these ingredients from your diet could have incredible effects. Another hypothesis is that genetic factors are relevant and IBS is simply inherited. 

    Final Thoughts

    In attempting to answer the question what is IBS, and what causes it, it seems society currently has no defined cause. However, the symptoms have been scrutinized and partially remedied by various treatment options, though many seem to fall short. I really hope you learned something in reading this, if nothing else this is a reminder that your mental health is crucial. It affects everything.

    In our society today there is a huge separation in healthcare regarding the mind and body. They are treated completely separately, yet new research and data seems to point to the idea that these two things are far more intertwined than we could imagine in terms of remedying illnesses. 

    What is IBS and What Causes It? Does it affect my skin? | Mirra Skincare

    Written by Kiana St. Onge

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      1. https://www.healthline.com/health/irritable-bowel-syndrome#what-is-ibs
      2. https://medlineplus.gov/irritablebowelsyndrome.html
      3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5453305/

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