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Eczema - Research

Omega-3 Fatty Acids - A Ray Of Hope Against Eczema

According to a report published in a recent issue of the British Journal of Dermatology, daily supplementation of docohexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid, may improve the symptoms of eczema, also called atopic dermatitis.

Researchers at Charite-Universitatsmedizin Berlin conducted a clinical trial, which showed that an 8-week course of the supplement, with 5.4 g of the omega-3 PUFA DHA administered every day, led to an improvement of the clinical symptoms of eczema.

Dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids include oily fish such as salmon and sardines, linseed oil, kiwifruit oil, flaxseeds, butternuts, and walnuts. Omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are considered super nutrients. They aid cognitive functions and may help protect against heart disease. This new study indicates that omega-3 PUFA may help alleviate atopic eczema as well.

Fifty-three people, with an average age of 26.6 years and who had been diagnosed with atopic eczema, were randomly assigned to two groups. One received a daily supplement of 5.4 g of DHA. The other, the control group, received saturated fatty acids with an equal calorific value. Those in the first group who received DHA exhibited a significant clinical improvement in the symptoms of eczema, which was not exhibited by members of the control group. This pointed to the anti-inflammatory properties of fatty acids.

These findings need to be confirmed in larger studies, though, before skin specialists can start prescribing a daily supplementation of DHA for eczema treatment and management.

Source: British Journal of Dermatology Volume 158, Issue 4, Page 786-792 "Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation in atopic eczema: a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial" Authors: C. Koch, S. Dölle, M. Metzger, C. Rasche, H. Jungclas, R. Rühl, H. Renz, M. Worm

Childhood Eczema Linked to Asthma in Middle Age

Childhood eczema, an allergic skin condition, increases the likelihood of childhood asthma as well as the persistence of asthma in later life, reports a 37-year long study published in the August issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The Tasmanian Longitudinal Health Study (TAHS) is an ongoing study that began in 1968. 8583 seven-year-old school children were enrolled for this study. They were surveyed again in 1974, 1979-81, 1991-93, and most recently in 2003-05. About 81% of those still alive and traceable responded to the latest survey.

769 of the seven-year-olds in 1968 had childhood eczema. These children showed an increased incidence of asthma in preadolescence, adolescence, and adulthood. Over time, the incidence of asthma as teenagers almost doubled in those with childhood eczema compared to those who did not have eczema. 63% of the participants were more likely to develop asthma as adults.

The researchers suggest that the link between eczema and asthma may be due to genetic and environmental factors. Eczema could also be contributing to asthma directly. One possible way could be the migration of certain immune system cells from the skin of the eczema patient to tissues in the patient’s airways. These cells are primed for an allergic response and could increase the likelihood of inflammation in the airway in response to an inhaled allergen later in life. If there is actually a cause-effect relationship between eczema and asthma, an aggressive treatment of childhood eczema could reduce the chances of asthma in later life.

Sources:

(1) http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/579141

(2) http://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(08)00954-8/abstract

(3) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_68194.html

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