Can you use fish oil to treat eczema?
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a skin disease where areas of affected skin may become red, swollen, itchy and scaly.
Some common triggers for eczema include:
Exposure to low humidty
Use of soaps or detergents that dry out the skin
Excessive exposure to wetting and drying the skin (ie. sweating or hand washing)
Exposure to allergens or irritants
Deficiency in skin proteins
Poor fatty acid metabolism in the skin
Not only can these irritated areas of skin be very uncomfortable, patients with eczema may also be at risk for infections if the skin breaks; thereby exposing the body to pathogens. Reducing or preventing irritation to the affected areas (chronic scratching or picking at the skin) may help limit the chance for secondary infections.
Treatment may involve avoiding known allergens or irritants, diligent use of skin moisturizers and application of anti-inflammatory or cortocosteroid creams.
Recent research into the health benefits of omega 3 fatty acids indicates they may help improve moisture levels, soften the skin and reduce inflammation.
Fish oils contain the omega 3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Omega 3 fatty acids are important for maintaining and supporting cellular membranes in every part of your body, as well as playing a role in regulating blood pressure, hormones and neurological function.
One of the most important effects of omega 3 fatty acids is their anti-inflammatory properties.
Researchers believe fish oils levels of leukotriene B4, an inflammatory mediator that causes many of the painful symptoms found in eczema and dermatitis.
The following study on fish oil and eczema shows the omega 3 fatty acids may help reduce the painful inflammation seen in this disease.
Fish oils may
Oslo, Norway - Researchers at the University of Oslo gave one hundred and forty five (145) eczema patients 6 grams a day of fish oils or corn oil.
After four months of treatment, researchers saw an improvement in 30% of patients who took fish oil supplements, compared to only 24% of patients taking corn oil. The 'fish oil group' also experienced a significant increase in blood levels of omega 3 fatty acids.
Why did these patients experience an anti-inflammatory effect from the fish oils? Research shows omega 3 fatty acids help your body make chemicals called eicosanoids.
These anti-inflammatory effects may help your skin benefit from fish oils. Since the symptoms and causes of eczema may vary from one person to another, using fish oils for eczema may offer hope for some individuals.
Dusseldorf, Germany - Some dermatologists believe that improving the skin barrier may help reduce symptoms and exacerbations of eczema and atopic dermatitis.
Scientists at the Clinical and Experimental Photodermatology Department, University of Dusseldorf, experimented to see of a topical application of an omega fatty acid cream (Eucerin Omega Cream ), consisting of evening primrose oil and grapeseed oil would reduce eczema outbreaks.
Researchers found the omega cream prevented or reduced eczema from developing, compared to test subjects that didn't receive the cream.
United Kingdom - The development of eczema is reportedly caused by a deficiency in essential fatty acids; leading to inflammation.
Researchers at Laxdale Research, United Kingdom, found a deficiency in essential fatty acids lead to inflammatory skin conditions in both humans and animals.
Subjects with atopic eczema exhibited low metabolism of linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid) leading researchers to believe that there is an inability to convert linoleic acid into gamma linoleic acid (GLA).
Researchers discovered that adminstering GLA to subjects with atopic dermatitis experienced less skin roughness and improved skin condition.
The research appears to support the use of omega 3 fish oils for treating eczema and other inflammatory skin conditions. These oils may help reduce redness, skin peeling, dryness and improve moisturization levels.
Using a highly-refined omega 3 fish oil supplement that provides high concentrations of omega 3 fatty acids will ensure your body is getting optimal levels of these healthy fats to support and nourish healthy skin.
Dietary supplementation with very long-chain n-3 fatty acids in patients with atopic dermatitis. A double-blind, multicentre study. Institute for Nutrition Research, University of Oslo, Norway, British Journal of Dermatology. 1994 Jun;130(6):757-64
Modulation of atopy patch test reactions by topical treatment of human skin with a fatty acid-rich emollient. Skin Pharmacology and Applied Skin Physiology. 2002 Mar-Apr;15(2):100-4.
Fish again for dinner! The role of fish and other dietary oils in the therapy of skin disease. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 1988 Dec;19(6):1073-80.
Influence of low-dose polyunsaturated fatty acids supplementation on the inflammatory response of healthy adults. Nutrition. 2007 Oct;23(10):724-30.
Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acid constituents of fish oil and the management of skin inflammatory and scaly disorders. World Review of Nutrition and Dietetics. 1991;66:425-35.