Cochrane Summaries

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Probiotics for treating eczema

Boyle RJ, Bath-Hextall FJ, Leonardi-Bee J, Murrell DF, Tang MLK
Published Online: 
8 October 2008

There is not enough evidence to recommend using probiotics for the treatment of eczema.

Eczema is a skin condition characterised by an itchy red rash, which affects between 5 and 20% of people at some time in their life. People with eczema have different bacteria in their gut to people without eczema, and sometimes they have inflammation in their gut. It may be possible to treat eczema symptoms by changing the mix of gut bacteria or by reducing inflammation in the gut. One type of treatment that might achieve this is probiotics - these are live micro-organisms taken by mouth such as the Lactobacillus bacteria found in unpasteurised milk and yoghurt. This review of twelve trials found that probiotics do not reduce eczema symptoms such as itching, nor do they change the overall severity of eczema judged by patients or their doctors. The results varied between different trials but overall do not suggest that probiotics are an effective treatment for eczema. Further studies of new probiotics are needed, because it is possible that different types of probiotics which haven't yet been studied in eczema treatment could be more effective. Probiotics can rarely cause infections and gut problems.

This record should be cited as: 
Boyle RJ, Bath-Hextall FJ, Leonardi-Bee J, Murrell DF, Tang MLK. Probiotics for treating eczema. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD006135. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006135.pub2
Assessed as up to date: 
28 April 2008