Eczema is irritation to the outer layers of the skin. It causes an itchy, red rash. Scratching makes the rash worse.
It is treated with skin care, medicines, and UV light therapy. Some people turn to natural therapies to further manage symptoms.
May Be Effective
May Not Be Effective
- Chinese herbal medicine uses herbs to bring balance and harmony to the body. It may not ease symptoms of eczema.B1-B3
- Probiotics are live microorganisms. Recent studies show that they may not help ease symptoms of eczema. (Note: Probiotics should not be taken by people who have a suppressed immune system or acute pancreatitis.)C1-C19
Unlikely to Be Effective
- Primrose oil is from a flowering plant. It has not been shown to ease symptoms.D2
Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.
Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution
Talk to your doctor about all herbs or supplements you are taking. Some may interact with your treatment plan or health conditions. Some supplements discussed here have certain concerns such as:
- Probiotics should not be taken by people who have a suppressed immune system or acute pancreatitis.
A1. Evangelista MT, Abad-Casintahan F, et al. The effect of topical virgin coconut oil on SCORAD index, transepidermal water loss, and skin capacitance in mild to moderate pediatric atopic dermatitis: a randomized, double-blind, clinical trial. Int J Dermatol. 2014 Jan;53(1):100-108.
B1. Cheng HM, Chiang LC, et al. The efficacy and safety of a Chinese herbal product (Xiao-Feng-San) for the treatment of refractory atopic dermatitis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2011;155(2):141-148.
B2. Gu S, Yang AW, et al. Chinese herbal medicine for atopic eczema. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Sep 10;(9):CD008642.
B3. Gu S, Yang AW, et al. Topical application of Chinese herbal medicine for atopic eczema: a systematic review with a meta-analysis. Dermatology. 2014;228(4):294-302.
C1. Michail SK, Stolfi A, et al. Efficacy of probiotics in the treatment of pediatric atopic dermatitis: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2008 Nov;101(5):508-516.
C2. Gerasimov SV, Vasjuta VV, et al. Probiotic supplement reduces atopic dermatitis in preschool children: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trial. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2010;11(5):351-361.
C3. Woo SI, Kim JY, et al. Effect of Lactobacillus sakei supplementation in children with atopic eczema-dermatitis syndrome. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2010 Apr;104(4):343-348.
C4. Drago L, Iemoli E, et al. Effects of Lactobacillus salivarius LS01 (DSM 22775) treatment on adult atopic dermatitis: a randomized placebo-controlled study. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2011 Oct-Dec;24(4):1037-1048.
C5. Wu KG, Li TH, et al. Lactobacillus salivarius plus fructo-oligosaccharide is superior to fructo-oligosaccharide alone for treating children with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis: a double-blind, randomized, clinical trial of efficacy and safety. Br J Dermatol. 2012 Jan;166(1):129-136.
C6. Drago L, Toscano M, et al. Changing of fecal flora and clinical effect of L. salivarius LS01 in adults with atopic dermatitis. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2012 Oct;46 Suppl:S56-63.
C7. Iemoli E, Trabattoni D, et al. Probiotics reduce gut microbial translocation and improve adult atopic dermatitis. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2012 Oct;46 Suppl:S33-40.
C8. Han Y, Kim B, et al. A randomized trial of Lactobacillus plantarum CJLP133 for the treatment of atopic dermatitis. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2012 Nov;23(7):667-673.
C9. Kim, SO, Ah YM, et al. Effects of probiotics for the treatment of atopic dermatitis: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2014 Aug;113(2):217-226.
C10. Allen SJ, Jordan S, et al. Probiotics in the prevention of eczema: a randomised controlled trial. Arch Dis Child. 2014 Nov;99(11):1014-1019.
C11. Cuello-Garcia CA, Brożek JL, et al. Probiotics for the prevention of allergy: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2015 Oct;136(4):952-961.
C12. Zuccotti G, Meneghin F, et al. Probiotics for prevention of atopic diseases in infants: systematic review and meta-analysis. Allergy. 2015 Nov;70(11):1356-1371.
C13. Cabana MD, McKean M, et al. Early Probiotic Supplementation for Eczema and Asthma Prevention: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Pediatrics. 2017 Sep;140(3). pii: e20163000.
C14. Huang R, Ning H, et al. Probiotics for the Treatment of Atopic Dermatitis in Children: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2017 Sep 6;7:392.
C15. Wu YJ, Wu WF, et al. Evaluation of efficacy and safety of Lactobacillus rhamnosus in children aged 4-48 months with atopic dermatitis: An 8-week, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. J Microbiol Immunol Infect. 2017 Oct;50(5):684-692.
C16. Wickens K, Barthow C, et al. Maternal supplementation alone with Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 during pregnancy and breastfeeding does not reduce infant eczema. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2018 May;29(3):296-302.
C17. Zhao M, Shen C, et al. Treatment efficacy of probiotics on atopic dermatitis, zooming in on infants: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Dermatol. 2018 Jun;57(6):635-641.
C18. Szajewska H, Horvath A. Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG in the Primary Prevention of Eczema in Children: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2018 Sep 18;10(9). pii: E1319.
C19. Makrgeorgou A, Leonardi-Bee J, et al. Probiotics for treating eczema. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Nov 21;11:CD006135.
D1. Javanbakht MH, Keshavarz SA, et al. Randomized controlled trial using vitamins E and D supplementation in atopic dermatitis. J Dermatolog Treat. 2011 Jun;22(3):144-150.
D2. Bamford JT, Ray S, et al. Oral evening primrose oil and borage oil for eczema. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Apr 30;(4):CD004416.
D3. Camargo CA Jr, Ganmaa D, et al. Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation for winter-related atopic dermatitis in children. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014 Oct;134(4):831-835.e1.
D4. Kim G, Bae JH. Vitamin D and atopic dermatitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrition. 2016 Sep;32(9):913-920.
D5. Kim MJ, Kim SN, et al. Vitamin D Status and Efficacy of Vitamin D Supplementation in Atopic Dermatitis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2016 Dec 3;8(12). pii: E789.
D6. Sánchez-Armendáriz K, García-Gil A, et al. Oral vitamin D3 5000 IU/day as an adjuvant in the treatment of atopic dermatitis: a randomized control trial. Int J Dermatol. 2018 Dec;57(12):1516-1520.
Last reviewed May 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Last Updated: 6/14/2019