Your gastrointestinal tract is home to about 100 trillion bacteria. There are more than 500 species. Some of these are beneficial and imperative for your health, while others can result in health issues, such as eczema and skin inflammation. When the good bacteria are properly balanced, it helps to promote healthy digestion, produces nutrients and boosts the immune system. One way to promote greater good flora levels is to probiotics for eczema.
How Do Probiotics Help with Eczema?
Probiotics for eczema are not uncommon. In fact, in recent years, a wealth of research has been done to determine how this type of nutrient might help those with the skin condition.
What is Eczema?
In the United States, it is estimated that 31.6 million people are living with at least one form of eczema. This is a type of skin condition can cause the following symptoms:
- Dry skin
- Patches that are brownish-gray to red in color
- Scaly and thickened skin
- Raised bumps that are typically small and may leak fluid
- Skin that gets sensitive, swollen and raw from scratching
- Scaly skin
A gene variation is believed to play a role in eczema. Ultimately the type of eczema someone has determined the cause. Types include:
- Atopic dermatitis: An immune system malfunction occurs causing issues with the skin barrier.
- Dyshidrotic eczema: Exposure to allergens.
- Seborrheic eczema: Combination of hormones, genetics and microorganisms.
- Contact dermatitis: Touching known allergens or irritants.
- Nummular eczema: Very dry skin or allergens.
- Lichen simplex chronicus: Occurs as a result of frequent rubbing and scratching.
- Stasis dermatitis: Poor circulation causes it.
Probiotics for eczema have been studied well. One of the longest-running studies has been looking at children who are at a high risk for eczema. It followed them starting when they were in the womb and continued to track them until their sixth birthdays. The parents of the children had eczema, asthma or hay fever. Patients received two different probiotic strains, including Bifidobacterium animalis and Lactobacillus rhamnosus.
Mom was administered these probiotics once she reached her 35th week of pregnancy. Once children were born, they breastfed, and mom continued to get the probiotics. The children received the probiotics themselves starting at six months. It was determined that the prevalence of eczema was significantly reduced in the group receiving Lactobacillus rheamnosus.
Another study looked at kids ranging from age one to 13. It focused on Lactobacillus plantarum. All of the participants had eczema. By the time the study concluded, those who received the actual probiotic experience significant symptom improvement.
In addition to measuring the patient’s visible symptoms, this study also looked at blood eosinophils. These are a type of blood cell that can change in their count when eczema is exacerbated. The patient’s blood showed that the group who took probiotics had a decrease in disease activity. This was noted by looking at their eosinophil counts.
Both of these studies were comprehensive. They were double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled for the most accurate results.
The studies above showed that taking probiotics can be beneficial for eczema. They also showed that long-term use of probiotics can help to keep eczema symptoms better controlled over the long term.
Getting Enough Probiotics
To reap the benefits, it is important to choose the right probiotics. Different people respond differently to the various probiotic strains. So, it may take a little experimenting to find the one that benefits you the most. However, supplements that contain the following tend to be the most beneficial for eczema:
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus
- Lactobacillus paracasei
- Lactobacillus fermentum
- Lactobacillus plantarum CJLP133
- Lactobacillus paracasei GMNL133
- Lactobacillus fermentum GM090
It is important to talk to a doctor before choosing a dose. However, 10 billion CFU per day is the general dosage tested for adults. For kids, the research doses are typically about five billion CFU per day.
It can take three months or more before noticing significant improvement in eczema. It is important to take probiotics as directed. Make sure to note miss doses. Once the benefits start to become evident, continue taking the probiotics. To maintain the improvements, probiotics should be taken long-term.
There are several things to consider when choosing a quality probiotic supplement. It is imperative to make the right choice. Use the following information to pick the right supplement:
- Look for a supplement that contains multiple probiotic strains
- Look for a CFU of at least 10 billion
- If you plan to take your supplement with food, it should be enteric coated
- Consider supplements that also contain prebiotics
- Make sure that the brand you choose is reputable
- Find a supplement that does not contain any binders or fillers
Getting prebiotics too helps to enhance your gut biome. The following are rich in prebiotics:
- Raw chicory root
- Raw garlic
- Raw onion
- Raw banana
- Raw dandelion greens
- Raw leek
- Raw asparagus
To further help to promote the good bacteria in your gut, you can choose to incorporate certain foods into your diet. Fermented foods and yogurt are good sources of probiotics. These foods are typically where you will find the Lactobacillus strains. To get more Bifidobacterium into your diet, yogurt is a good choice. There are certainly other foods that can also be beneficial, including:
- Apple cider vinegar
- Kimchi, sauerkraut and other cultured vegetables
- Raw cheeses
- Dark chocolate
You can take a supplement and incorporate probiotic foods into your diet at the same time.
When you start eating more probiotic foods or taking a probiotic supplement, it is possible to experience side effects. As your body adjusts to the probiotics, these tend to go away. For most people, they are mild. They may include increased gas, constipation, bloating and diarrhea.
How Do Probiotics Reduce Skin Inflammation?
One of the hallmarks of eczema is inflammation, so it makes sense to look at how probiotics may help to alleviate inflammation. By reducing inflammation, this contributes to an improvement in eczema symptoms.
What is Inflammation?
When illness and injury occur, the body initiates an immune response. Part of this is inflammation. You need inflammation for the body to attack foreign invaders, to repair damaged tissue and to promote overall healing. If inflammation never happened, infections could become life-threatening and even the smallest wounds could not heal. However, when inflammation becomes chronic, problems start to occur.
When skin inflammation is present, it generally presents as warmth, swelling, and redness. In some cases, pain can be present. After an illness or injury, inflammation occurs in the following general steps:
- Cytokines, a type of protein, are released as a result of biochemical processes
- These essentially let your immune cells, nutrients and hormones know that it is time to get to work
- Arteries dilate so that blood flow in the body increases
- Hormones, nutrients and white blood cells get between the cells as a result of the capillaries getting more permeable
- The injured or ill area gets flooded with white blood cells so that they can fight off what is causing the problem
- Prostaglandins, a type of hormone, try to heal damaged tissue by creating blood clots
- Prostaglandins are also responsible for the fever and pain that are present during healing
- The white blood cells are accompanied by fluid, resulting in swelling
When inflammation is acute, once the body heals, the inflammatory response stops. The associated symptoms go away. However, there are times when it remains and becomes a chronic issue. With eczema, inflammation can be chronic. It needs to be addressed to alleviate it.
Quelling Inflammation with Probiotics
One way to help alleviate inflammation is with probiotics. There are probiotic sprays that can be applied directly to areas of the skin affected by eczema. These have shown great promise in helping to alleviate a patient’s symptoms. However, since chronic inflammation tends to be systemic, it is also important to target inflammation from the inside out. This means also eating probiotic foods or taking a quality supplement.
Topical probiotics can be used with those you ingest. They may help to do the following:
- Alleviate eczema symptoms
- Detoxify the skin
- Rehydrate the skin
- Provide the skin with powerful antioxidants
When the skin is healthier, eczema symptoms may be reduced. It is also critical to keep the skin hydrated since dryness can trigger certain eczema symptoms.
When you apply probiotics to the skin, it absorbs them. The skin is better able to fight against the allergens and other environmental factors that might trigger eczema symptoms. With sufficient probiotics, the skin also tends to be stronger.
When you are using topical probiotics, make sure to follow the directions exactly. Use the same information for choosing this type of probiotic that you do when you pick out a supplement.
With this information, you can better determine if probiotics are the answer to your eczema problems. You can get them from your diet, as well as from high-quality supplements. Take the Vitagene Health + Ancestry DNA test to find out if supplementing with probiotics is right for you.