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Managing Eczema with probiotics

Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is an inflammatory skin condition that results in red, painful, dry and itchy skin. In some cases, eczema can cause the skin to weep, bleed and crust over. It is often uncomfortable and may have an impact on the individual’s quality of life.

Who suffers from eczema?

As with many conditions, the onset and severity of eczema varies from person to person. Many people are under the assumption that eczema only affects infants and children, however, this is not the case. Although eczema most commonly appears in young children, many of whom ‘grow out of it’, some may continue to have this condition into their adult life. Additionally, people who thought they were lucky enough to escape the effects of eczema during their childhood may develop the condition as an adult.

How can I reduce the impact eczema has on my life?

Although eczema can be a difficult condition to live with, it is important not to let eczema rule your life. Eczema is often seen in people with a personal or family history of allergies such as hay fever or food intolerances. It is these immune imbalances that must be addressed when looking at the treatment of eczema.

One factor that plays a vital role in the development and maintenance of a well-functioning immune system is a healthy balance of good bacteria within the gut. Good bacteria, also known as probiotics, inhabit the bowel and are responsible for maintaining optimal digestive function, supporting immune function and improving general health and wellbeing. Supplementing with probiotics can help to enhance the level of good bacteria within the gut and restore balance if the microbiome is disturbed.

Which probiotic is of most benefit?

With the wide range of probiotic supplements currently on the market, it is important to choose one that is specific for dealing with your health concerns. Many people may be aware of the positive effects of taking a probiotic supplement for their overall health, however, what many people do not realise is that different probiotic strains have different benefits within the body. This means there is no "one size fits all" when it comes to probiotic supplements. Different people will benefit from different probiotic formulas depending on what strains are present. There is one probiotic strain – Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG® – that is well recognised for its beneficial effects in eczema. This particular strain of bacteria is one of the most extensively studied probiotics.

Research shows that Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG® can help to reduce the symptoms of eczema such as itching. It may also help reduce the sleeplessness associated with eczema. When given to pregnant and breastfeeding women, studies have found Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG® helps to reduce the frequency and severity of eczema in their children. Inner Health Eczema Shield contains 20 billion Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG® per capsule with a 1 a day dose to help reduce the symptoms of eczema.

What else can I do to help manage eczema?

There are many factors that may be involved in eczema onset and severity. Making minor dietary and lifestyle changes can assist in the management of eczema symptoms. Some positive changes you can make include:

  • Consume a healthy well balanced diet that is rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and essential fatty acids such as those from cold water fish, nuts and seeds.
  • Replace inflammatory fats from foods such as meat products, poultry and dairy with the anti-inflammatory poly-unsaturated fats such as those from deep sea fish, avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds.
  • Identify and avoid any foods that you might be sensitive to, as they may trigger or exacerbate eczema symptoms.
  • Aim to drink 1.5 – 2 litres of water daily to help support the detoxifying capacity of the body.
  • Avoid exposure to toxins and chemicals that may aggravate eczema symptoms such as those found in many household cleaning products and skin care products. When possible, opt for bio-degradable cleaning fluids and skin care products based on natural ingredients such as vitamin E and olive oil.

What's next?

By selecting a probiotic that contains Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG®, such as Skin Shield or Eczema Shield Kids, and by making the appropriate dietary and lifestyle modifications, you may find relief from the symptoms of eczema.

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