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Eczema can be quite difficult to treat. People with this skin condition, also called atopic dermatitis, suffer with rashes, irritation and stubbornly dry patches of skin that may not clear up with moisturizer. One reader found that taking flaxseed oil helped control this chronic condition.

Can Supplements Help Eczema?

Q. Today I read your column about a person with eczema. I have had total body eczema my whole life until I started taking flaxseed oil capsules. They contain linoleic acid which we people with atopic dermatitis need.

My skin has been clear on flaxseed oil. It has had no side effects and it’s cheap.

Essential Fatty Acids for Eczema:

A. Flaxseed oil does contain some linoleic acid, but it is especially rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). These are essential fatty acids that play a crucial role in skin health (Horrobin, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Jan. 2000).

Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is an inflammatory skin condition that shows up as redness, itching, dryness and thickened sensitive patches. Research in mice that have a similar skin problem shows that fermented flaxseed oil can reduce inflammation and ease the symptoms of redness, swelling and itching (Yang et al, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Jan. 19, 2017).

Evening primrose oil and hempseed oil provide gamma-linolenic acid, which also appears to be helpful (Timoszuk et al, Antioxidants, Aug. 14, 2018; Calloway et al, Journal of Dermatological Treatment, April, 2005).

Can You Prevent Eczema and Allergies?

No one knows why allergies like hay fever and eczema have become more common in many industrialized countries. But some researchers may have an idea. Their research seems to support the “Hygiene Hypothesis.”

Could Early Antibiotics Increase the Likelihood of Allergies and Eczema?

An analysis of 22 studies conducted over five decades sheds some light on recent increases in allergies and eczema. Doctors have been enthusiastically prescribing antibiotics to children for ear infections, acne and other common conditions without understanding that this might change the ecology of the digestive tract. These bacteria influence the development of our immune system.

Children Who Get More Antibiotics Are More Likely to Develop Allergies:

Researchers in the Netherlands linked early use of antibiotics to a greater risk of eczema and hay fever. The more often young children received a prescription for antibiotics the more likely they were to have allergies later in life. They presented these findings in 2016 but have not published them.

Such associations cannot prove causation, but we are learning that disrupting the microbiome of the digestive tract may have unforeseen consequences. Other investigators have found that the microbiome has a significant impact on conditions such as atopic dermatitis (Ficara eta l, Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, Sep. 10, 2018; Slattery et al, Clinical Medicine Insights. Pediatrics, Oct. 9, 2016).

Since pediatricians are now striving to reduce antibiotic prescribing so as not to increase antibiotic resistance in the germs that make kids sick, there may be data in a few years to show whether this tactic also helps lower the probability of eczema or hay fever as the youngster grows up.

4/22/19 redirected to:  https://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2019/04/22/can-natural-remedies-help-calm-eczema/

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  1. Judy

    I use flaxseed oil on my toast in the morning instead of butter. It tastes good, and I get the health benefits.

  2. Michele C.

    I have a question about the flax seed oil and anything containing linoleic acid. Is it true that linoleic acid, and therefore flax seed oil, is bad for men because it can cause prostate issues or exacerbate them? I believe I had read that at some point a while ago. We use flax seed meal for heart health, (omega 3), and the meal is apparently low in linoleic acid, so it would not help with eczema, I imagine. (I enjoyed your article because I struggle with eczema.) Thank you.

    • ebm

      Michele, the article says LINOLENIC acid not Linoleic acid.

    • Terry Graedon

      The answer to your question about linoleic acid is complicated. At least one study found a connection, but it changes with age. In men under 62, linoleic acid intake lowers prostate cancer risk. In men older than that, it raises the risk. Here’s the abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27490808

  3. hank
    green bay

    Oolong tea every day works for my eczema. It fixed what 50 years of cremes and ointments could not.

    • Barbara H,

      Please say more about your use of oolong tea for eczema, Do you drink it as usual? If so, how many cups do you drink during the day? Do you add anything to the tea that improves its curative ability? Thank you for shedding more light soon on this suggestion.

    • mary3

      Hello, Hank. Sure need more details on Oolong tea, please. Friend has 2 year child suffering terribly. Thank you, Anyone else?

      • Rosemary

        Check for food allergies. I found out that my daughter was allergic to the poppy seeds in poppy seed dressing that we were using on a fruit salad. Google “elimination diets,” and try to find if there is a specific food that is causing trouble.

  4. Cami
    Seattle, wa

    Would Flaxseed oil also help psoriasis?

    • Pat
      So. CA

      How much do you drink ?

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