Eczema treatment, natural with nutritional supplements by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
September 25 2016


Eczema is a skin disorder with inflammation of the upper layers of the skin that results in rashes, dryness, itching, flaking, even blistering and bleeding. This rash-like inflammation that causes itchy, red skin, can be treated with antihistamines, oral and topical steroids and over-the-counter products along with natural herbs and supplements. Children with this allergic skin condition are at increased risk of developing asthma well into adulthood.


Atopic dermatitis, named also atopic eczema, is a chronic relapsing inflammatory skin disease and is in most cases a genetic and/or immune-supported defect of the skin barrier, facilitating penetration and sensitization to food or airborne allergens, as well as infections by Staphylococcus aureus, herpes simplex virus, or other microbes.


Between 2000 and 2010 the prevalence of eczema among kids younger than 18 increased. 9-17 percent among black children, 5-10 percent among Hispanic kids; and around 8-13 percent among white children. December 2014, Pediatrics.


Reducing eczema severity
Apply lotion immediately after getting out of the shower to keep your skin well-moisturized.
Don't take very long baths or showers, and avoid using very hot water since it can dry skin and increase itchiness.
Avoid using harsh soaps or detergents that can irritate the skin.
Try to avoid becoming overheated or very sweaty.
Keep skin well covered during winter.
Try not to wear itchy fabrics made of wool or some synthetic fibers.


If symptoms are flaring, keep your hands as dry as possible. When washing hands, use a gentle, perfume-free cleanser and a little lukewarm water. Gently blot them dry and quickly apply a moisturizer. Don't use a hand sanitizer when hand eczema is flaring. Protect your hands with gloves when working with food or water. Wear cotton gloves while doing chores around the house. Don't wear rings while doing housework or washing hands. Ask someone else to shampoo your hair. Or use waterproof gloves.


Child and mother's diet
What a woman eats during pregnancy may influence the odds that her child will develop an allergy. Dr. Joachim Heinrich, of GSF-Institute of Epidemiology, Neuherberg, Germany evaluated the associations between maternal diet during the last 4 weeks of pregnancy and allergy and eczema in offspring at age 2 years. They analyzed data from 2,641 children. Overall, 17 percent of all children had doctor-diagnosed eczema at age 2. Positive associations were observed between high maternal intakes of margarine and vegetable oils during the last 4 weeks of pregnancy and eczema during the first 2 years in the offspring. On the other hand, eating a lot of fish late in pregnancy seemed to offer some protection against eczema in offspring.


Maternal diet during pregnancy in relation to eczema and allergic sensitization in the offspring at 2 y of age.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2007. GSF-National Research Center for Environment and Health, Institute of Epidemiology, Neuherberg, Germany and Faculty of Medicine, Environmental Hygiene and Environmental Medicine, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.
Maternal diet during pregnancy might be one of the factors that influences fetal immune responses associated with childhood allergy. We analyzed the association between maternal diet during the last 4 wk of pregnancy and allergic sensitization and eczema in the offspring at 2 y of age.  We suggest that the intake of allergenic foods and foods rich in n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids during pregnancy may increase and foods rich in n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids may decrease the risk of allergic diseases in the offspring.


Eating lots of vegetables and fruits during pregnancy decreases the risk of having a baby with certain allergies. Greater intake of green and yellow vegetables, citrus fruit, and veggies and fruits (generally those colored red and orange) may lessen the chance of having a baby with eczema (itchy, dry, red patched skin). Allergy, online January 22, 2010.

Feeding babies as little as one portion of fish before they are nine months old reduces their risk of developing eczema. It may be worth feeding children more fish or adding fish oils to their diet.


Breast milk
Infants who consume breast milk for four months or longer after birth have a reduced risk of being plagued by the dry skin or itchy rash characteristic of eczema by the time they are 4 years old. Various researchers have reported positive benefits of exclusive breastfeeding, including its association with a reduced asthma risk. Breast-feeding should be recommended as one possible way to reduce the risk of onset of eczema and asthma. For many reasons breastfeeding is the optimal way to feed the child with human milk. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, September 2005.


Food allergy
There is a possibility that in some cases allergies to food could cause or aggravate this skin condition. For instance some children could have an allergy to cow's milk.


Natural treatment, home remedy
The benefits of vitamin D are not clear yet.

Daily vitamin D supplements might help children with eczema that gets worse in the winter. When eczema, a chronic inflammatory skin disorder, flares up in the winter it's known as winter-related atopic dermatitis, Massachusetts General Hospital, news release, October 2014.


Eur Ann Allergy Clin Immunol. 2015. Serum Vitamin D levels and Vitamin D supplementation do not correlate with the severity of chronic eczema in children. To our knowledge, our study is the first one that shows no correlation between serum levels of Vitamin D, eczema severity and IgE sensitization in a pediatric population suffering from chronic eczema.


Eczema and prebiotics

Infant formula containing a mixture of prebiotic oligosaccharides -- compounds that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestines -- may protect against the development of eczema or dermatitis in babies at high risk for allergic skin conditions. The research was conducted by Dr. Guenther Boehm from Numico Research Germany, Friedrichsdorf. Human breast milk contains natural prebiotics that promote the development of a healthy immune system, which can help prevent allergies. Boehm's team developed an infant formula based on the prebiotic content of human breast milk and tested its ability to reduce the incidence of eczema or skin allergy in a group of newborns whose mothers were unable to start or continue breastfeeding. These infants were at high risk for skin allergy because they had a parent with the condition. A total of 102 infants were fed a prebiotic -enriched infant formula and 104 were fed a normal formula. The children were seen on a monthly basis until the age of 6 months. Only 10 infants fed the prebiotic formula had signs of eczema after six months, compared with 24 infants fed the normal formula. Tests on stool samples from 98 infants showed that the prebiotic group had significantly higher levels of the beneficial gut microbes bifidobacteria compared to the other group. Prebiotics can favorably affect development of the immune system of infants by altering the bacteria in the bowel and in so doing reduce the chances of eczema developing in at-risk infants. Archives of Disease in Childhood July 2006.


Probiotics may benefit
Probiotics have been suggested to be useful in children with atopic eczema-dermatitis syndrome.


Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2013. Evidence of preventive effect of probiotics and prebiotics for infantile eczema.

Oral supplementation with the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri to the mother during pregnancy and to the infant after birth may help reduce the development of eczema and allergy associated with immunoglobulin E, a key protein involved in the allergic response. Dr. Thomas R. Abrahamsson of Linkoping University Hospital enrolled families with a history of allergic disease. Expectant mothers were randomly assigned to receive Lactobacillus reuteri in an oil suspension or a placebo treatment, each day from week 36 until delivery. Their babies continued with the same formulation from birth until 12 months of age and were followed up for another year. A total of 188 completed the study. At 2 years, the incidence of eczema was 36 percent in the active treatment group and 34 percent in the placebo group. However, during the second year, only 8 percent of the Lactobacillus reuteri group had IgE-associated eczema compared with 20 percent of the placebo group. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, May 2007.


The number of children suffering from atopic eczema has increased over the past 30 years especially in children between the ages of 2 and 5 years. These is a significant group of eczematous children that are resistant to standard therapy. Babies and children with eczema suffer pain, irritation and disfigurement from the dermatitis. In this study, we have followed 14 cases of pediatric patients (ages of 8 months to 64 months) with a history of resistant eczema for a period of at least six months. All of these children received 300 mg to 500 mg standardized Lactobacillus rhamnosus cell lysate daily as an immunobiotic supplement. The results of this open label non-randomized clinical observation showed a substantial improvement in quality of life, skin symptoms and day- and nighttime irritation scores in children with the supplementation of Lactobacillus rhamnosus lysate. There were no intolerance or adverse reactions observed in these children. Lactobacillus rhamnosus cell lysate may thus be used as a safe and effective immunobiotic for the treatment and prevention of childhood eczema and possible other types of atopy (allergic diseases). Inflamm Allergy Drug Targets. 2010 Jul. Lactobacillus rhamnosus cell lysate in the management of resistant childhood atopic eczema. Hoang BX, Shaw G, Pham P, Levine SA. Allergy Research Group, Inc., Alameda, CA 94502, USA.


Treating pregnant mothers, and then their infants, with select strains of probiotics may help prevent eczema in children with a family history of allergies, particularly during the first 3 months of life. Researchers gave more than 150 pregnant women with a family history of allergic diseases either a mixture of three probiotic bacteria or a placebo during the last six weeks of pregnancy. They also gave the same treatment to the women's children for 12 months. During the first 3 months of life, the parents of six in 50 of the subjects who received probiotics reported eczema in their children, compared to 15 or 52 of the placebo group. Although the rate of eczema in the two groups became more similar, there was still some benefit after for up to two years. One of the paper's 9 authors is employed by Winclove Bio Industries B.V., Amsterdam, which manufactures the probiotic supplements used in the study. Allergy 2009.


Chinese herbs for eczema treatment
Doctors at the Chinese University of Hong Kong recruited 85 children suffering from eczema; 42 of them were given capsules containing extracts of five herbs twice daily for 12 weeks, while the remaining 43 children were given placebos. By the end of three months, the conditions of the children who were given the herbs improved and their use of corticosteroid creams and ointments was reduced by one third. The five herbs used in the eczema treatment were Flos lonicerae (Jinyinhua), Herba menthae (Bohe), Cortex moutan (Danpi), Rhizoma atractylodis (Cangzhu) and Cortex phellodendri (Huangbai).


Supplement that are of no benefit
Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013. Oral evening primrose oil and borage oil for eczema. Oral borage oil and evening primrose oil lack effect on eczema; improvement was similar to respective placebos used in trials. Oral BO and EPO are not effective treatments for eczema.


Eczema symptoms
Here are common symptoms of eczema, although other skin diseases can show similar symptoms:
Skin rash with excessive itching.
Blisters that are red, inflamed and oozing.
Skin that is dry and leathery.
Skin that is raw from excessive scratching.


Things that make it worse: Having very dry skin. Having contact with an irritant or allergen, from smoke or pets to detergents. Having a skin infection. Drooling among babies, causing facial eczema. Exposing skin to cold, dry air.


Atopic excema cause
Atopic eczema or dermatitis can result from a number of factors, or combination of factors, including immunologic background, genetics, skin barrier dysfunction, IgE receptors, and triggers (including allergens, microorganisms, and autoantigens).
   An outbreak of eczema can be triggered by weather, stress or use of certain products, including detergents. It is possible that maternal diet in the years before pregnancy may influence the occurrence of eczema in the child.

Divorce and stress make eczema worse
Young children whose parents are divorced may be more likely than other children to develop eczema. The stress of divorce may affect children's immune system in a way that promotes atopic eczema, in which an abnormal immune reaction periodically causes patches of skin to become inflamed, red and intensely itchy.


Lancet Respir Med. 2014 Feb. Comorbidity of eczema, rhinitis, and asthma in IgE-sensitised and non-IgE-sensitised children in MeDALL: a population-based cohort study. Eczema, rhinitis, and asthma often coexist (comorbidity) in children, but the proportion of comorbidity not attributable to either chance or the role of IgE sensitisation is unknown. We assessed these factors in children aged 4-8 years. Coexistence of eczema, rhinitis, and asthma in the same child is more common than expected by chance alone-both in the presence and absence of IgE sensitisation-suggesting that these diseases share causal mechanisms. Although IgE sensitisation is independently associated with excess comorbidity of eczema, rhinitis, and asthma, its presence accounted only for 38% of comorbidity, suggesting that IgE sensitisation can no longer be considered the dominant causal mechanism of comorbidity for these diseases.


Treatment for atopic eczema
Treatment modalities with topical treatment (emollients, topical corticosteroids, topical calcineurin inhibitors, wet wrap therapy, and topical antimicrobial therapy), systemic management (antimicrobials, systemic corticosteroids, cyclosporine A, azathioprine, antihistamines), and phototherapy.


Biochemical understanding
New experimental results on the role of T cells and keratinocytes have led to a better understanding of eczematous inflammation and can help explain both the clinical and histological pictures of eczema. Besides activated endothelial cells and adhesion molecules, a complex interaction of numerous chemokines controls the recruitment of T cells from the blood vessels and their migration into the dermis and epidermis. Activated T cells damage the epidermis by pro-inflammatory cytokines and can induce apoptosis of individual keratinocytes through "killer molecules". Cleavage of adhesion molecules on keratinocytes leads to spongiotic changes. Keratinocytes then activate repair mechanisms, which cause acanthosis and parakeratosis in chronic eczema.


Eczema natural treatment questions
I am 52 years and in the past I only had a few minor bouts with eczema, usually cleared up by changing soap or applying more moisturizers. But in the last year it has escalated to cover my back and face, with spots on my limbs and stomach as well. It is really becoming a problem and I canít get a handle on it. The doctors just hand out steroid creams. Are there any supplements that may help treat eczema in a natural way?
   Perhaps eating more fresh vegetables, cold water fish, taking fish oil supplements and reducing sugar intake could help.


My 18 week old son has always been exclusively breastfed, and now has eczema all over. There is a family history of hay fever. What is the likely hood that he has / will have a food allergy. I am starting the elimination diet but am really worried about starting solids with him within the next two months. I am a vegetarian so it has been hard to cut out foods. I just donít know the likelihood that he will be allergic to foods or just be seasonally allergic.
   It is not possible for me to know what your baby's genetic makeup is in terms of current or future allergies.


My granddaughter is three and apparently has eczema. someone mentioned taking omega 3 or fish oil fatty acids. If this is good what dosage.
    I cannot advise on the specific dosage, but it may be a good idea to take omega-3 fatty acids and to reduce sugars and bad fats.


I have a fairly serious case of eczema Ė mostly limited to my arms and legs. Itís the most severe on my thighs. I have tried MANY things, to both figure out the cause, and to treat it. I no longer eat sugar (expect fruit and alcohol on occasion) or any grains. I donít eat peanuts. I know that those are some pretty common allergens. My diet consists mainly of meat, fish, veggies, fruit, some nuts, seeds, eggs and some dairy. I have tried many types of oils and skin creams. Nothing (yet) except a prescription medication seems to work. However, the prescription medication is not something I want to continue using, as I believe it contains steroids. And all it does it make the symptoms go away, it doesnít do anything for prevention. A couple things I am going to try next Ė salt water (I live on the beach so Iím going to go in the ocean a few days in a row to see if that helps). And then if I get no results, I have been told to try using manuka honey topically.


some misspell this word as exema or ecxema