Oral Probiotics Show Efficacy in Dealing with Dermatitis and Eczema
Odds are that you or someone you know has suffered from dermatitis. Dermatitis, or eczema, is an umbrella term that we use to describe a set of (often chronic) dermatological conditions, that affects an estimated 10% of the US population and 17% of the Canadian population.1,2 And if you have any experience with the condition, then you know that it can run the gamut from annoying to debilitating.
As of late, there has been an increased incidence of dermatitis among both adults and children. As such medical research has begun to shift in focus from cause and treatment to prevention with increased attention towards the effects of probiotics and their ability to successfully treat atopic dermatitis.3
A Better Understanding of Dermatitis
Chronic dermatitis can be painful, limiting, and challenging to manage but even short-term flare-ups of the condition can cause uncomfortable and embarrassing lesions. Atopic dermatitis is the most common and is defined as “caused by a malfunction in the immune system and problems with the skin barrier”.1 Dermatitis results in itchy, red, and inflamed skin1 and because it most commonly presents itself behind the knees, inside the elbow, on the hands and neck, or even on the face, it can be difficult to manage or conceal comfortably.2
There are many different classifications and causes of dermatitis and sometimes mitigating the condition can be as easy as identifying and avoiding an environmental trigger. Irritants can include everything from a topical application of bug spray or sunscreen, strong soaps or lotions, or an allergic reaction to poison ivy or nickel.2 That said, eczema is often the allergic reaction that presents as the first stage and precursor in a more extensive series of reactions throughout one’s life, including food allergies, asthma, and seasonal allergies.4
If you’ve ruled out an external cause to your skin woes, you might want to consider an imbalance in your microbiome as the culprit for your dermatological discomfort. Inflammation is the most common cause of dermatitis (that isn’t a result of environmental factors), and who helps keep inflammation in check? That’s right, your microbiome.
The Microbiome and the Health of Your Skin
Your skin is your largest organ, and unless you happen to suffer from dermatitis or some other skin malady, you might not recognize that it’s impossible to separate the health of your skin from your overall health.
As your largest organ, it can be a harbinger of other systemic or pervasive issues. Because your microbiome is so intricately linked to your overall health, it also impacts your skin. Reducing gut inflammation can be the key to healthy skin and your microbiome can be one of the most critical factors in combating systemic inflammation, bringing eczema under control, and promoting healthier, happier skin.
How Probiotics Specifically Support Eczema
Topical treatments and steroids are typically prescribed for acute dermatitis; however, this solution can be used only in the short term and comes with other adverse effects and burdens to the body.5 The desire to find a preventative solution to dermatitis is fueling research in this area, and studies are highlighting the efficacy of probiotics. More specifically, research is showing the most success when the probiotic is taken orally, not applied topically. And while the exact mechanism of function is still not fully understood, it is believed that the microbes positively influence local inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, which in turn translates to supporting systemic effects too. But it is not just a matter of taking any probiotic to promote skin health. It is believed, across the board, that the strain of probiotic does matter in how successful the probiotic is for treatment and support.5
The Case for Bio-K+
Recent research done by Dr. Wayne Gulliver, Professor of Medicine (Dermatology) of the NewLab Life Sciences, has shown that when the specific probiotic strains found in Bio-K+ - Lactobacillus acidophilus CL1285®, L. casei LBC80R® and L. rhamnosus CLR2® - are taken orally as a once-daily capsule (50 billion probiotic bacteria), they promote a positive change in dermatitis. This study specifically looked at those suffering from chronic hand eczema, and an astounding 86% of subjects demonstrated an improvement within the 12 weeks trial period.5 The strains of probiotic bacteria used in Bio-K+ works in synergy with each other and with the bacteria already present in our digestive tract, and prove to be an effective tool in both dealing with acute flare-ups and as a preventative measure for keeping eczema, and specifically hand eczema, at bay.
To fully understand the mechanism of action that probiotics use to support dermatitis future clinical research is still needed. Generally speaking, however, a balanced microbiome will help better manage acute flare-ups from an external irritant and help reduce systemic inflammation within to prevent chronic flare-ups in the future.
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