By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.
Eczema is a common skin affliction among children that often continues into adulthood. Through a 2015 study, Chinese researchers found that a probiotic supplement may provide a simple and potent solution.
Standard treatment for infantile eczema includes bathing, skin moisturizers, topical steroid medications, and for severe cases, even oral anti-inflammatories.
The Chinese researchers reported in the journal Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine that using capsules with a strain of Bifidobacterium bifidum for four weeks resulted in notable reduction in symptoms of eczema.
Bifidum is one of the body’s important beneficial bacteria that go by the name of probiotics. It is active in the colon. Probiotics such as bifidum and lactobacillis acidophilus are often found together in probiotic supplements sold in health food stores.
The Chinese researchers concluded that probiotic supplementation has a “positive effect on the prevention and treatment of infantile eczema.”
A chronic itchy skin condition that often starts within the first six months of life, eczema is more common in families with a history of eczema, hay fever, and asthma. In young babies, you see it most frequently on cheeks, forehead, and scalp. Later, it may show up on the elbows and knees. For more information about infantile eczema, visit the website of the National Eczema Association.
My Viewpoint: Many times kids are treated with antibiotics that cause destruction of the beneficial bacterial present in the gut. It is important to remember that these colonies of bacteria play a huge role in the digestive and immune functions of the body. That’s why problems often develop after antibiotic treatments. Previous research suggests that pre- and post-natal supplementation can bolster the immune response of infant digestive systems and help curb eczema in high-risk children.
What This Means to You: Probiotic research is booming these days as continuing investigations reveal that the beneficial bacteria play a significant role in health.
My Recommendation: Pregnant women or new mothers, particularly with a family or personal history of allergies, should speak to their pediatricians about probiotic supplementation. It can make a big difference. Powder forms are available, and mix easily with breast milk, formula, or juice.
- Rong-Jun L, et al. Protective effect of probiotics in the treatment of infantile eczema. Exp Ther Med. 2015;9(5):1593–1596.
- Niers L, et al. The effects of selected probiotic strains on the development of eczema (the PandA study). Allergy. 2009;64(9):1349-58.
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