We frequently see children with eczema in our
practice. Eczema is a noncontagious inflammation of the skin, often
caused by an allergy and characterized by itching, scaling, and
blistering. Most of the therapeutic focus for eczema is on dietary
improvements, supplementation with omega 3 (fish oil & flax oil)
and/or omega 6 fatty acids (evening primrose, borage or black currant
seed oil) and the daily use of a high potency hypoallergenic
multivitamin. We also investigate the possibility of food sensitivities
or intolerances as a primary cause of the eczema.
Recently, one of our doctors was surprised at the
lack of improvement in a 4-year-old girl with eczema. Her name is
Katie. Her mother had made drastic improvements in their eating habits
and Katie was taking her supplements (she had even learned to swallow
capsules!). Despite this her arms and ears were still aggravated with
dry, red patches although her knees had cleared almost completely.
Then the doctor remembered that a very important
nutrient had been overlooked – probiotics (good bacteria for the
intestines). Probiotics are dietary supplements containing potentially
beneficial bacteria that help to strengthen the immune system. In 1908
the Russian scientist Elie Metchnikoff won the Nobel Prize for his work
in immunology. His theory that certain bacteria may improve health is
still of major importance today.
Many studies have been conducted on the effect of
probiotics in eczema. Some of the most compelling ones demonstrate the
positive effects of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacter lactis
in the treatment of eczema. We routinely prescribe a product with these
two organisms to maintain the growth of the normal intestinal bacteria.
Healthy amounts of good bacteria in the intestine
helps to minimize food sensitivities or allergic reactions that may
result in skin diseases like eczema. Katie had been treated with
antibiotics several times for ear infections, which may have reduced
her good bacteria balance in her intestine so the doctor prescribed a
probiotic for her to take.
After 2 weeks of taking Acidophilus/Bifidobacter, 2
capsules daily, her skin had almost completely cleared and within a
month, she had no signs of eczema. We are certain the dietary
improvements were of great benefit but without the correction and
normalization of her intestinal bacteria, her symptoms would have