Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Eczema Health Center

Font Size

Probiotics No Help in Childhood Eczema

Good Bacteria Found in Foods Do Not Reduce Eczema Symptoms, Review Shows
WebMD Health News

Oct. 10, 2008 -- New research shows that the use of probiotics to treat eczema in children is not effective and may carry a risk of bowel damage and infection.

Probiotics are naturally occurring microorganisms. In most cases they are bacteria and are similar to the friendly bacteria found in the gut or skin. Lactobacillus and bifidobacterium are common probiotics that are found in many foods such as yogurt, unpasteurized milk, fermented soy and yeast, and infant formula.

People with eczema have what is believed to be a disorder of cells of the immune system. Probiotics have been used as a treatment for eczema in children. But a Cochrane Collaboration review of 12 studies involving 781 children concluded that there is no evidence that probiotics in supplement form reduce the symptoms of eczema or change its severity.

Probiotics for Eczema

The 12 studies were conducted between 2003 and 2008. The children ranged in age from 1 month to 13 years, but most of them were under 18 months old and appeared to have an allergy to cow's milk. The probiotic strain used most commonly in the studies was Lactobacillusrhamnosus, either alone or in combination with other probiotic bacteria.

The trials did not note any negative reaction to probiotics, but when Cochrane researchers dragged a net through a wider pool of studies, they found 46 cases in which probiotics were implicated in infection, bowel tissue damage, and even death, says Robert Boyle, MD, the lead researcher in the review.

Boyle is an allergist who teaches medicine at Imperial College in London. The bowel damage and fatalities occurred in patients with severe pancreatitis, he says.

"A wider trawl of literature showed that although probiotics are recognized as a safe treatment in otherwise healthy people, in people who are severely unwell, there is a significant risk in using probiotics," he says.

Boyle says he also wouldn't recommend giving infants probiotics, even if the infant is healthy. And he would not advise anyone with eczema to use probiotics because, he says, there are more effective treatments.

Today on WebMD

woman meditating
Learn how to deal with a key trigger: stress.
Getting your eczema under control?
man with eczema
Does it affect your eczema?
makeup brushes and foundation
And be educated when shopping for cosmetics.
Antipsychotic Drugs Blood Clots
Eczema Emotional Effects
young woman touching skin
Eczema on arm

Itching for Relief?

Get Help With the

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.