Can Probiotics Help Treat Baby Eczema?

October is National Eczema Awareness Month, and Ready, Set Food! is here to help with tips for baby eczema care. Learn what probiotics are, and whether they may be helpful for treating your baby's eczema, based on a recent review of clinical studies.

If you haven't figured out how to manage your baby's eczema yet, and you've been researching possible treatments, you've probably seen probiotics mentioned as an option. Will probiotics help treat your baby's eczema (atopic dermatitis)?

Get more answers to common questions on eczema from this video presented by Mustela and Board Certified Dermatologist Dr. Latanya Benjamin:

Several clinical studies have examined whether probiotics help eczema babies. Evidence from this research is mixed and limited, but recently looks more promising.

Today, we'll cover what probiotics are, the types that may be helpful for treating baby eczema, and what some of the research findings indicate about using probiotics to treat baby eczema.

Remember that every baby is different, though. What works to manage or treat another baby's eczema might not work for your baby.

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts. The most common probiotics---including the ones that may be helpful in treating baby eczema--- are live bacteria. These probiotics are often called "good bacteria." Unlike other "bad" bacteria, which can cause diseases, probiotics are not harmful to the body. Rather, probiotics areintended to provide health benefits when you consume them, like restoring the natural balance of gut bacteria.

Which probiotics may be helpful in treating baby eczema?

The probiotics that may help treat baby eczema are part of the lactobacillus group of bacteria.

  • The lactobacillus group is the most common type of probiotic.
  • Lactobacillus bacteria are naturally found in yogurt.

Types of lactobacillus that may help treat your baby's eczema include:

  • Lactobacillus paracasei
  • Lactobacillus fermentum
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG

The types listed here seemed to effectively treat eczema in at least one study that involved infants.

If you're thinking about trying probiotics as an eczema treatment, it's best to look for these types of lactobacillus in probiotic supplements. (It's usually difficult to tell which types are in a yogurt.)

Research on Probiotics and Baby Eczema

Researchers have conducted studies on probiotics and children's eczema for years, but results have been mixed.

However, a 2018 review of clinical studies involving infants and toddlers under three years of age, shows promising evidence that lactobacillus may be helpful in treating baby eczema.

This review, conducted by Dr. Mutong Zhao and others, examined seven clinical trials involving 609 children. All the studies were double-blind and randomized, and all the studies used the SCORAD index, which measures the severity of someone's eczema.

Based on the review:

    • Lactobacillus treatments helped babies decrease their SCORAD score (meaning their eczema became less severe after the treatment).
    • Types of lactobacillus that helped decrease SCORAD score include:
      • Lactobacillus paracasei
      • Lactobacillus fermentum
      • Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG
    • Infants with moderate or severe eczema showed greater improvement after consuming lactobacillus than those with mild eczema did.
    • Another type of probiotic, known as bifidobacterium, didn't seem to benefit babies with eczema like lactobacillus did.
    • Probiotic treatment seemed to be more effective in babies under 12 months of age than in toddlers 12-36 months of age, but more research is still needed.

    Probiotics and Baby Eczema: What Parents Need To Know

    What should parents take away from the research---and what else should parents know about probiotics and eczema?

    Certain types of lactobacillus may be helpful in treating baby eczema, especially if your baby's eczema is more severe.

    However, more detailed research is still needed to figure out which treatments are best.

    • Research hasn't yet established which types and doses of probiotics are safest and most effective for treating baby eczema.
    • We also don't know which age is the most beneficial age to start probiotic treatment, or how long a baby needs to consume probiotics for a treatment to be the most effective.

    Also, every baby is different, so probiotics may have different effectiveness levels for each baby.

    If you're thinking about using probiotics to treat your baby's eczema, talk to your doctor.

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    All health-related content on this website is for informational purposes only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own pediatrician in connection with any questions regarding your baby’s health.

    These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  If your infant has severe eczema, check with your infant’s healthcare provider before feeding foods containing ground peanuts.