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Studies show Fish Oil for Eczema Effective Treatment
Can you use fish oil to treat eczema? Fish oil is a natural source of omega 3 fatty acids shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. In skin conditions, such as eczema (also known as atopic dermatitis), affected areas of the 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
Patients with eczema can also have an increased risk for infections due to germs and pathogens entering the body through breaks or tears in the skin. Reducing or preventing irritation to the affected areas (chronic scratching or picking at the skin) may help limit the chance for secondary infections. Eczema treatment may involve avoiding known allergens or irritants, using skin moisturizers and anti-inflammatory or cortocosteroid creams.
Can Omega 3 Fish Oils Help Reduce Eczema?
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 the omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oils may reduce levels of leukotriene B4, an inflammatory mediator that causes many of the painful symptoms found in eczema and dermatitis.
The following research studies from Norway, Germany and the United Kingdom found omega 3 fatty acids may help reduce skin inflammation and improve skin health in some eczema patients:
1. Study shows Fish Oils improved Eczema better than Corn Oil
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 skin improvement in 30% of patients who took fish oil supplements, compared to only 24% of patients taking corn oil.
These skin improvements may have been due to the body producing anti-inflammatory chemicals called eicosanoids, an effect caused by the presence of omega 3 fatty acids in the body.
2. Omega 3 Fatty Acid Cream Reduces Eczema Symptoms
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 3 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.
3. Essential Fatty Acid Metabolism in Eczema
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.
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.