Primrose Oil May Not Help Eczema

Children, Adults Had No Improvements in Itching, Scaling

From the WebMD Archives

Dec. 11, 2003 -- Primrose oil won't help calm the itch of irritating eczema, a common, chronic skin problem, a new study shows.

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, typically is triggered by stress or by allergies to foods, fabrics, airborne irritants, and chemicals. The rash gets itchy, red, and scaly. Though over-the-counter or prescription creams can provide relief, so can eating more foods with fatty acids, like salmon and mackerel, which reduce inflammation and itch.

That's why this group of researchers looked into primrose oil.

Their 12-week study looked at 140 adults and children with eczema. One-half of the adults took two capsules of primrose oil containing 920 mg of the essential fatty acid linoleic acid, while the other half got placebo capsules. (Children's primrose oil doses were one-half the adults'.)

After 12 weeks, both children and adults taking primrose oil had similar eczema symptoms as the placebo group.

Longer treatment with primrose oil may have led to a more significant improvement, reports researcher A. Takwale, a dermatology researcher with George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton, England.

Larger studies have shown similar results about primrose oil -- that it isn't a workable option for eczema, writes Takwale.

SOURCE: Takwale, A. British Medical Journal. Dec. 13, 2003; vol 327: pp 1385-1387. WebMD Medical Reference: "Understanding Eczema."

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