Babies with eczema may find relief from the skin condition through treatment with a bacteria supplement, according to a recent study.
The study findings, published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, showed that 92% of babies treated had their condition improve from taking Lactobacillus fermentum, a live bacterium also known as a probiotic.
"Supplementation with (the) probiotic L. fermentum is beneficial in improving the extent and severity of (eczema) in young children," wrote Dr. Susan Prescott and colleagues. "(This study) provides further evidence for a role of probiotics in the management of this condition."
Probiotics refers to the use of bacteria to benefit health.
The research team examined 53 children in Australia between the ages of 6 and 18 months, all with moderate or severe eczema, also called atopic dermatitis (AD). The babies were either given L. fermentum or a placebo, twice daily for eight weeks.
While 63% of the babies treated with a placebo showed improvement, 92% of those who were given doses of the probiotic saw their condition get better. Moreover, L. fermentum contributed to a milder form of AD in more than half of the babies, compared to only 30% of those who got a placebo. A lasting benefit was also demonstrated in the treatment group. What's more, the researchers indicated "this is also the first study to show persisting benefits 2 months after supplementation ceased." However, the researchers did note the need for more studies.
Over the last 50 years, there has been a significant rise in complications related to allergic disorders such as AD. Experts believe this may be in part due to our decreased exposure to bacteria. Based on this theory, the study authors suggest the probiotic in AD may "modify (or even prevent) allergic responses to aero-allergens." Although L. fermentum is not a cure for AD, in general, the goal of treatment for this condition is to heal your child's skin and to manage or minimize future flares.