By Sabra Way (bio below)
Probiotics often come up when discussing possible supplements to use for eczema. The question is what are the best probiotics for eczema? When do you use them and how will they help? In many previous studies involving atopic dermatitis, the probiotics were given to pregnant mothers and then continued in the infant after birth. Results were great, but what if a child didn’t receive probiotics inutero? Will probiotics given only after birth help a child’s eczema? Because probiotic strains have different effects, the results have been variable. However, in one new study, the benefits of probiotics for eczema in children has finally been documented. In this study, two probiotic strains ( Lactobacillus paracasei and Lactobacillus fermentum) were either given singly or in combination and tested against a placebo in children 1-18 years of age with moderate atopic dermatitis. After three months, eczema symptoms (affected area size, redness, oozing, scratching, skin thickening and dryness) in the probiotic groups were reduced, and this effect remained for another month without probiotic supplementation. The probiotic group also had improved quality of life measuring things like sleep, symptoms, feelings and activities affected by their skin. Atopic dermatitis improved especially in children younger than age 12, who had breastfed longer than six months.
The intestinal microbiota is a complex environment influenced by many factors. As we become older our microbiota, is less amenable to alteration, and this may be why children older than 12 years of age had a lower response to probiotics for eczema. Children with food sensitization like a food allergy or food induced skin allergy may respond better because probiotics modulate immune responses. As well, our response to probiotics is moderated by our genetic background, diet and lifestyle.
What impact would using the probiotics for eczema longer than the three months be? Would there have been a consistent improvement in quality of life and symptoms of eczema in children? We don’t know the answer, but a healthy microbiome takes constant management. If not tended, it will usually revert to its former configuration. As well, the children were not asked to change their diet and diet has a large impact on our microbiome. Your microbiome is made up of what you eat, consistently. It thrives on a high fibre, unrefined diet. We are what our bacteria eat so without diet change, alterations in the children’s microbiota may have been minimized or reduced.
- Certainly try probiotics for eczema relief. There is evidence that it can improve bodily function and skin health. Speak with your physician before starting any new supplement.
- Children under 12 and who breastfed longer than six months may respond best.
- Look for one or both of these probiotic strains, both Lactobacillus paracasei and Lactobacillus fermentum, in the supplement you choose.
- We could only find one formula with both strains: HMF Multi Strain by Genestra (top allergen free).
- Another option would be to take two formulas that each only contain one of the strains. Lactobacillus paracasei: Pro Bio by Enzymedica OR LactoPrime Plus by Klaire Labs (both are free of top allergens) AND Lactobacillus fermentum: Pro Bio PCC by Pharmenex.
- Combine it with a healthy whole food diet. We recommend recipes from the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook.
- Further points on how to improve your microbiome can be found in our post: Are Antibiotics Contributing To The Rise in Food Allergies?
Have you tried using probiotics for eczema? For you? For your child?
Please keep in mind that I am not a medical professional and the contents of this post should not replace medical advice. If you’re experiencing severe eczema or have a topical infection, it is always best to seek medical advice from a physician immediately.