Best supplements for eczema: Probiotics and prebiotics shown to help ease sore skin

Eczema: Dr Ranj provides tips for treating condition

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People with eczema tend to have an over-reactive immune system that produces inflammation. This could be triggered by dry skin, irritants, and stress. Could probiotics and probiotics help ward off inflamed skin? Researchers from Houston Methodist Hospital said there have been “promising results” in regards to the treatment of atopic dermatitis – a type of eczema. The “use of probiotics and prebiotics taken in combination” has been shown to ease sensitive skin.

However, “given significant differences in study design to date”, the clinical review isn’t able to clarify dose and strain of probiotics.


The charity Guts UK explained that bacteria in the gut plays a role in the immune system.

Prebiotics act as fertilisers; their inclusion in the diet helps to “feed” gut bacteria, helping it to grow.

“Many plant foods contain different types of prebiotics,” said Guts UK, such as:

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Tomatoes
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Legumes
  • Green vegetables
  • Wholegrain cereals

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“Prebiotics can also be manufactured artificially and added into foods or supplements,” added the charity.


The NHS explained: “Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts – usually added to yoghurts or taken as food supplements.”

They’re thought to help restore the natural balance of bacteria in the gut when it’s been disrupted by an illness or treatment.

However, the NHS disputed that there is any evidence that probiotics can help treat eczema.

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“The specific type of bacteria, dose and composition of the probiotic are important,” Guts UK said.

Eczema triggers

The NHS said: “There are a number of things that may trigger your eczema symptoms.”

Triggers can include irritants, such as soaps, detergents, washing-up liquid and bubble bath.

The condition could be exacerbated by allergens, such as house dust mites, pet turn, pollen and mould.

Other environmental triggers can include cold and dry weather, or dampness.

Even certain material can lead to itchy and sensitive skin, such as wool and synthetic fabrics.

For some women, their eczema symptoms may worsen days before their period is due or during pregnancy.

Although there’s no cure for eczema, one main treatment involves the use of emollients.

Emollients are specialised moisturisers that can prevent the skin from becoming dry in the first place, which can be a trigger.

People may also be prescribed topical corticosteroids that can help to reduce swelling and redness during flare-ups.

Other methods include antihistamines to relive severe itching and dietary changes.

This can include avoiding foods that may trigger an eczema reaction, such as eggs and milk.

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