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Finding Solutions for Eczema

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Do Probiotics Help Eczema? What to Know

Medically Reviewed By Sara Perkins, MD

The evidence for whether probiotics help eczema is mixed, so more research is needed. Still, probiotics may help prevent new cases of eczema in children. Probiotics are live bacteria that can help keep your gut healthy and strengthen your immune system. They are often known as “good” bacteria.

They are naturally found in fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, and kombucha, but many people take them via manufactured supplements.

Currently, there is no cure for eczema and treatments focus on relieving inflammation and symptoms. Research into whether probiotics may improve eczema management has mixed results.

Read on to learn more about whether probiotics help eczema, including how it is associated with prevention and symptom management.

Do probiotics help eczema? 

Two jars of brewing kombucha on a wooden table.
1310211632 Helder Faria/Getty Images

More research is needed to confirm whether probiotics help eczema. Studies into possible benefits have mixed results.

For example, researchers from a 2018 analysis Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source of 39 trials reported that probiotics have little to no effect on eczema symptoms or quality of life.

On the other hand, a 2022 review of studies Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source showed that probiotics might help treat adult atopic dermatitis, with improvements in eczema severity scores and quality of life. Still, the review did not find significant changes in skin symptom severity, itch severity, or specific immune markers of eczema. 

A 2021 review of studies involving children ages 18 years and younger included 20 trials. The results suggested that probiotics may benefit children with atopic dermatitis by reducing eczema severity scores compared to a placebo.

Also, a 2018 clinical trial Trusted Source JAMA Peer reviewed journal Go to source reported that a specific mix of probiotic strains significantly reduced eczema severity scores and the need for topical steroids in children with moderate atopic dermatitis. This suggests that probiotics could be an effective complementary treatment for reducing eczema severity.

Further research is also necessary to understand the differences in benefits between food sources of probiotics and supplements.

Talk with a doctor if you have questions about eczema treatment or management.

Always talk with a doctor or pharmacist before trying a new probiotic

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Trusted Source Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Governmental authority Go to source doesn’t check all supplements, including probiotics, for safety, ingredient quality, or effectiveness. This means that many supplements that you can buy over the counter haven’t been regulated before being sold.

Probiotics and other supplements may not be safe or effective for everyone.

Always talk with a doctor or pharmacist for product recommendations before trying a new supplement — even if it is available over the counter.

Probiotics and eczema prevention

Several studies suggest that probiotics may help prevent eczema from developing in children. However, this can depend heavily on the timing.

For instance, a 2022 review reported that taking Lactobacillus rhamnosus during the prenatal and postnatal periods reduced the chance of children up to age 7 developing atopic eczema.

A 2023 review also suggests that probiotics’ immune-boosting properties may help prevent eczema. The review reported that Lactobacillus rhamnosus or mixed probiotics effectively prevented atopic dermatitis in some children. Researchers observed the most significant benefits when they gave probiotics to a pregnant person or infants soon after childbirth.

Another review from 2020 suggested that probiotics may reduce the risk of developing atopic dermatitis and help relieve symptoms in children. However, the effectiveness of probiotics may vary depending on the duration of the treatment and at what age it begins.

Despite some positive findings, more research is needed to determine the optimal strains, dosages, and timing of probiotic administration for eczema prevention. Also, probiotics may not be effective for everyone.

Other eczema treatments 

Managing eczema typically involves a combination of medical treatments and self-care strategies to reduce inflammation, relieve itching, and prevent infection.

Medical treatment options for eczema include a combination of over-the-counter and prescription medications, such as:

  • Topical corticosteroids: These medications help reduce inflammation and doctors often prescribe them for eczema flare-ups. 
  • Topical calcineurin inhibitors: A doctor may prescribe topical calcineurin inhibitors like tacrolimus (Protopic) and pimecrolimus (Elidel) as an alternative to corticosteroids if they do not relieve your symptoms.
  • Systemic immunomodulators: For severe eczema, a doctor may prescribe oral or injected medications that help suppress the immune system and reduce inflammation. Examples include cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral), methotrexate (Jylamvo, Trexall), or dupilumab (Dupixent).
  • Phototherapy: Clinical exposure to ultraviolet light can help manage severe eczema that does not respond to topical treatments.

Some self-care strategies help manage your eczema symptoms and reduce the risk of infection, such as Trusted Source National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Governmental authority Go to source :

  • keeping your skin hydrated with over-the-counter emollient, occlusive, or humectant moisturizers
  • asking a doctor or pharmacist for skin care product recommendations, including moisturizers
  • keeping a symptom and activity diary to help you identify and avoid triggers
  • bathing with warm and not hot water
  • trying a colloidal oatmeal bath
  • avoiding skin care products with fragrances and using soaps and detergents for sensitive skin

Read more about eczema treatment and self-care options.

Other benefits of probiotics

Probiotics may have many health benefits, including Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source :

  • Improved digestive health: Probiotics promote a healthy gut microbiome by balancing the good bacteria in the gut. This may help with the digestion and absorption of nutrients and relieve various gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea. 
  • Immune support: Probiotics help regulate the immune system, reducing the likelihood of developing infections and allergic reactions.
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs) prevention: Certain strains of Lactobacilli have been linked to reduced UTIs in people assigned female at birth. Some studies suggest that consistently using probiotics may help prevent UTIs from coming back.
  • Improved oral health: Probiotics may help in preventing oral conditions such as cavities, gum disease, and bad breath by regulating oral bacteria.
  • Improved mental health: Research from 2023 Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source suggests that probiotics may relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression alongside other treatment options. However, more studies are needed to confirm probiotics’ effectiveness for mental health conditions.

Summary

Research into whether probiotics help eczema is mixed, and more research is needed to confirm the link.

Some studies suggest that probiotics may help reduce eczema severity or prevent eczema in children. However, other studies haven’t found any significant benefits.

Talk with a doctor or pharmacist before trying probiotics or for advice on other eczema treatments.

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Medical Reviewer: Sara Perkins, MD
Last Review Date: 2024 Jun 14
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