When we think of skin care for eczema, it’s easy to think first about the various topical treatments and remedies that we utilize to manage eczema symptoms.
While it’s true that there is a lot we can do with amazing products to treat our skin on the outside, it’s important to remember that the external side of skincare is just one piece of the puzzle. There’s a whole other internal aspect that has just as much impact on our overall skin health.
Focusing on a balanced diet, full of nutrient-rich foods, should always be your first priority for preventing eczema symptoms and flare ups. However, in recent years, a lot of research has been conducted regarding vitamins and supplements that can also be helpful.
Here are a few key findings below from the experts as to what actually works.
Probiotics and Prebiotics
With more and more evidence suggesting that inflammatory skin conditions are linked to inflammation in the body, and in particular the gastrointestinal system, a number of trials have focused on the potential to address eczema and boost skin immunity through gut health.
As it turns out, the findings are pretty incredible. Amongst the many different options for supplementation researched, one study found that probiotics and prebiotics provide some of the most promising improvement, decreasing the severity of eczema and related symptoms. Although more studies are still needed, researchers say the side effects of using pro and prebiotic supplements are minimal, making them a safe option for most adults to try.
Another go-to that’s often cited for eczema is consuming omega-rich oils and essential fatty acids, which are believed to reduce symptoms of inflammation, and support the skin’s barrier. Some of the most popular options are fish oils, borage seed, and evening primrose oil.
Results from various studies have been mixed, so experts say to proceed with caution when implementing oil supplements. In moderation, they have the potential to decrease inflammation markers, and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to support their efficacy. However, consuming too much oil can cause negative effects on digestion. Those with sensitive stomachs may also want to instead consider consuming more food sources to get their omegas, such as fish, avocado, nuts, and seeds.
Vitamins and Minerals
For promoting optimal function in the skin and encouraging a healthy immune system, some experts recommend supplementing your intake of daily Vitamins D and E. Support for these options comes from studies that suggest they can reduce inflammation and fight oxidative stress in the body.
Some of the most solid research findings conclude that Vitamin D may be the most helpful for eczema, especially in wintertime, when we tend to get less Vitamin D via sun exposure. Meanwhile, one Vitamin E trial found that it was able to achieve a 36% reduction of severity in symptoms over a period of 60 days. Additionally, when combined with Vitamin D, the numbers jumped to a 64% decrease. That said, other studies have not been able to reproduce these results.
When evaluating various options for eczema relief, we would all love a quick and easy fix. Unfortunately, what may work for one person may not work for everyone. Although there’s little risk in adding some extra nutrition to your routine, your best source of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, probiotics, and prebiotics will still be the foods you eat.
For a safe and balanced approach, we recommend always doing your research and if possible, consulting with your doctor or dermatologist, before going all in on a new diet or supplement.
Diet and eczema: a review of dietary supplements for the treatment of atopic dermatitis By Megan J. Schlichte, Abbey Vandersall, and Rajani Katta https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5006549/
Randomized controlled trial using vitamins E and D supplementation in atopic dermatitis By Mohammad Hassan Javanbakht , Seyed Ali Keshavarz, Mahmoud Djalali, Fereydoun Siassi, Mohammad Reza Eshraghian, Alireza Firooz, Hassan Seirafi, Amir Hooshang Ehsani, Maryam Chamari, Abbas Mirshafiey https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20653487/
Omega-3 fatty acids and inflammatory processes: from molecules to man By Philip C Calder https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28900017/