“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is a saying that many of us find to be true from experience.
Fifty years ago, only one in ten Australian children developed eczema before the age of two.
Today, nearly one in four children under the age of two has eczema.
It's a rapid increase that can be attributed to lifestyle, nutritional, hygiene and genetics factors.
While we cannot change our genetics, the good news is we have a lot of control over our lifestyle, nutrition and hygiene. New studies have found that pregnant women who take probiotics can reduce their child's risk of eczema by 29%.
What Is Eczema?
Eczema is a term used to describe chronic skin conditions that cause itchiness, redness, dry skin and bumps as the result of inflammation. This inflammation is often caused by allergies, sensitivities and environmental irritants.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live ‘good' bacteria and yeast. They are found in supplements, yogurts and fermented foods.
What Causes Eczema?
Inflammation is the body's way of healing and protecting itself. Unfortunately, our body can react to non-threats with inflammation causing allergic reactions such as eczema. Food sensitivities, chemicals and dyes in hygiene products, and skin that isn't moisturized enough can trigger the body to react with inflammation.
Scientists and medical professionals are still learning about the connection between our gut health and our immune system function. Current research shows a strong correlation between the presence or absence of certain microbes in our guts and allergic diseases. As we continue to learn more, we are seeing that poor gut health may play a significant role in the increased incidence of eczema.
How Can Probiotics Help Prevent Eczema?
Probiotics are living good bacteria that can help our body function properly. The right balance of good bacteria in our system helps our digestion and our immune system. When our digestion is off and when our immune system is off we see our body react with inflammation, such as eczema.
Genetics, our diet and our lifestyle can impact our gut health. Processed foods, sugars and over consumption of grains can affect our digestive system. When we do not consume foods with probiotics, such as fermented or cultured foods, our system may not have a proper balance of good bacteria.
Our frequent use of antibiotics also impacts our gut health. Antibiotics can be a lifesaving medical intervention. Antibiotics work by killing off bacteria. This is great for eliminating bacteria that is causing an infection, unfortunately it also kills the good bacteria our system needs to function properly.
Probiotics help to restore the proper balance of good bacteria. When we have a good balance of bacteria we reduce the risk of overall inflammation and sensitivities which reduces our risk of eczema.
How Effective Are Probiotics For Reducing Eczema?
A recently published meta-analysis in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found probiotics measurably reduced the risk of infant eczema.
- When mothers took probiotics during their third trimester, they reduced their baby's risk of eczema by 29%
- Breastfeeding mothers that took probiotics reduced their baby's risk of eczema by 40%
- When infants were given probiotics directly, their risk of developing eczema was reduced by 20%
Why Is Reducing Eczema So Important?
While eczema might not seem like a serious condition, it is a very problematic one. With the risk of eczema more than doubling in the last fifty years it is important we find ways to reduce this medical condition.
Eczema flares can be extremely itchy and uncomfortable. They can even become painful when the skin becomes so dry that it cracks. For some, the visible nature of eczema leaves them feeling socially vulnerable and insecure. Families dealing with eczema often experience stress trying to figure out triggers, diets and environmental irritants.
Eczema can be a chronic condition that has an effect on everyday life.
The recent research with eczema and probiotics provides a lot of hope for growing families with a history of eczema. Probiotics are inexpensive and have little to no risks. It's a simple step providers can recommend to help reduce the risk of eczema.
Even when precautions are taken, unfortunately some children will still have to battle eczema. It isn't always easy to deal with, but there are things we can do to help deal with it. A clean diet, natural hygiene products and other simple steps can help manage eczema.
Learn more about healing eczema by reading Baby Eczema – 6 Tips For Healing Breakouts.