Omega-3 in atopic eczema


Atopic eczema, the most common type of dermatitis, is a skin inflammation with flare-up from time to time and with a tendency to settle, causing irritated, red, dry and itchy patches on the skin (any areas of skin may be affected). It usually starts in early childhood, and the severity and duration of flare-ups varies from person to person and from time to time in the same person (symptoms may go away after a week or two or they may persist for years).

Although there is no single cause for this disorder, the percentage of population that is affected with atopic eczema in the industrialised countries has been linked to an alteration of the Western diet: unbalanced consumption of omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (less omega-3, more omega-6).

In order to determine the efficacy of dietary docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in atopic eczema, a team of german researchers administered either DHA 5.4 g or a supplement of saturated fatty acids with equal energy content as control treatment, daily for 8 weeks, to a group of patients. Changes in the extent and severity of eczema were assessed with SCORAD (SCORing Atopic Dermatitis), a scoring system used by dermatologists to determine whether a treatment has been effective. At the end of the treatment period, DHA (but not the control treatment) resulted in a significant clinical improvement of atopic eczema.

Considering these results, we could add the intake of DHA to the usual treatment of atopic eczema, given that dietary DHA has shown a beneficial impact on the extent and severity of this problem.



Koch C, Dölle S, Metzger M et al. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation in atopic eczema: a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial. Br J Dermatol. 2008 Apr;158(4):786-792.



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