Probiotics No Help in Childhood Eczema
Good Bacteria Found in Foods Do Not Reduce Eczema Symptoms, Review Shows
WebMD News Archive
Eczema Common Worldwide
Eczema is characterized by dry, red, and itchy patches on the skin. The
chronic, non-contagious condition affects 5%-20% of the world's population but
is especially common in children, more than half of whom will outgrow it.
The American Academy of Dermatology says eczema may be an abnormal response
of the body's immune system to allergens like animal dander and dust mites.
There is no cure, but moisturizers are generally recommended, along with
topical corticosteroids. In some cases, doctors recommend an antihistamine to reduce itching.
Probiotic supplements seem to reduce diarrhea and bloating in kids who have been treated with
antibiotics, and they are marketed as such, but in her experience, they don't
have a noticeable effect on eczema, says Nanette Silverberg, MD, director of
pediatric and adolescent dermatology at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in
New York City.
"Probiotics conceptually were well received by parents because it's a
natural extract and if prepared properly could be quite safe. I haven't found
them effective. I haven't seen any dramatic improvements in eczema," she
But Silverberg says there aren't enough data to prove either way the
efficacy of probiotics. The review focused on small studies that might not give
Andrea Cambio, MD, FAAD, a dermatologist in Cape Coral, Fla., says patients
and parents often ask about probiotics because they favor a more natural remedy
to eczema. Still, she also hasn't seen positive results from probiotic
treatment and isn't convinced they are completely safe. But she isn't
discounting them completely.
"What is exciting is that his area of research has such great potential
for future investigation," Cambio says.