DIET AND ECZEMA
Are there foods or supplements that can help eczema?
Are there foods that should be avoided?
Most of my eczema patients ask me about their diet. What do I think about the latest detox diet? Are there any diets or nutritional supplements that can help improve eczema? Are any of these actually supported by research?
The answer is yes, some dietary approaches have shown promise for eczema patients. BUT (and this is a big disclaimer), this is an area that's fraught with misinformation. You have to be very, very careful. One of my patients had a friend try to sell her on a detox diet. This particular diet included Epsom salts-which is outright dangerous!
ARE THERE FOODS THAT SHOULD BE AVOIDED?
For more information on food allergies and eczema, link here. This is an area that's very complicated and very challenging. For some patients with eczema, food allergies may play a role. For other patients, foods have no effect at all.
What about the other side of the equation? Are there any diets or supplements that can help eczema patients?
Here's the summary on supplement use in eczema:
The most promising results have been from studies of probiotics taken with prebiotics (see this link for study details)
Fish oil supplements haven't been studied enough to draw any definite conclusions, so we don't recommend those at this time.
There have been multiple studies of evening primrose oil and borage seed oil. Based on these studies, we do not recommend these supplements for eczema patients.
Vitamin D supplements are still being studied. They are probably NOT helpful for most eczema patients. However, some researchers have suggested that it may be worthwhile to perform further research in eczema patients with very low levels of serum Vitamin D or eczema patients who have frequent bacterial skin infections.
Finally, the studies on Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) have NOT been convincing. Research has found that while CHM may indeed make use of herbs, these preparations may also include minerals or animal products. To complicate matters, the different recipes for CHM and doses vary quite a bit. That makes it very difficult to study and compare these supplements. Based on the research to date, at this time we do NOT recommend CHM, although more research may be warranted.
In terms of dietary changes in eczema:
A diet that includes plenty of foods that are naturally rich in fiber (including fruits and vegetables) may help the growth of certain microbes that grow in the gut, and that in turn may help strengthen the skin barrier
A diet that includes moderate servings of foods naturally rich in healthy fats (such as omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids) may also help the skin barrier