Using Omega 3, How Long To Treat Eczema?
I’ve been asked: using Omega 3, such as is found in fish oil, how long does it take to treat Eczema?
There is evidence which suggests that fish oil with Omega 3, because it is a potent anti-inflammatory, can help treat some types of Eczema. However, it’s impossible to predict how long it will take to treat Eczema with Omega 3 because of variables such as the type of Eczema, the severity of it and the dosage you are taking.
Let’s talk about this some more . . .
Eczema is a common skin disorder characterized by skin dryness, swelling, redness, flaking, rashes and excessive itchiness. It’s actually a form of dermatitis which is an inflammation of the outer layer of the skin (called the epidermis).
Technically, there are a number of different classifications of Eczemas. The most common forms, in order of frequency, are:
Atopic Eczema – an allergic disease which often runs in families whose members also have asthma. It is characterized by an itchy rash which is particularly noticeable on head and scalp, neck, inside of elbows, behind the knees, and on the buttocks.
Contact dermatitis – a reaction to an allergen (such as poison ivy) or to an irritant (such as wet cement, for example).
Xerotic Eczema – dry skin that becomes so serious it turns into Eczema. It worsens in dry winter weather, and your arms, legs and torso are most often affected. This is common among seniors.
Seborrhoeic dermatitis – closely related to dandruff. It causes dry or greasy peeling of the scalp, eyebrows, and face, and sometimes trunk. When it affects newborns, it is called “cradle cap.”
There are even more forms of Eczema including Dyshidrosis, Discoid Eczema, Venous Eczema, Dermatitis Herpetiformis, Neurodermatitis and Autoeczematization. On top of that, there are also Eczemas which are related to viral infections and Eczemas that result from underlying disease such as lymphoma.
Maybe, but, in its various forms, this is a very prevalent problem.
Estimates of how many people suffer from Eczema vary. One estimate is that it affects about 3 percent of the population which, in the United States alone, would be more than 10 million people. And it affects school aged children in even higher percentages.
How Do You Treat Eczema?
Normally, you treat Eczema by applying emollients which may soothe irritated skin and prevent dryness and cracking. However, more severe cases of Eczema may require treatment with topical corticosteroids or a drug known as alitretinoin which works by reducing inflammation.
And there has been some exciting research which shows that Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil may also help to improve Eczema symptoms, or alleviate them altogether, in patients with the most common type of Eczema, Atopic Eczema.
One such study, which was published in the British Journal of Dermatology, gave 44 patients with Atopic Eczema daily tablets of either 5.7 gram Omega 3 supplements or placebos for eight weeks.
Those on the supplements recorded an average 18 per cent reduction in their symptoms.
Commenting on the study, co-author Professor Margitta Worm said: “The results of this trial are extremely interesting as the data clearly demonstrates that dietary DHA could be bioactive and may have a beneficial impact on the outcome of atopic eczema.”
How Does Omega 3 Benefit Eczema?
There is no conclusive proof of exactly how, that is by what mechanism, Omega-3 fatty acids exert their therapeutic effects on Eczema.
However, findings presented at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology conference in April 2006 suggest that Omega-3s may reduce inflammation by inhibiting the production of hormone-like chemicals known as prostaglandins.
That would explain why Omega 3s have been helpful treating a number of conditions related to chronic inflammation – such as asthma, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease.
One More Tip For Treating Eczema With Omega 3
You are familiar with the term “a balanced diet.”
That phrase can be applied to our intake of two of the essential fatty acids that our bodies need, Omega 3 and Omega 6.
Found in foods such as eggs, poultry, cereals, vegetable oils, baked goods, and margarine, Omega-6s are also considered essential because they support skin health, lower cholesterol, and help make our blood “sticky” so it is able to clot. But when Omega-6s aren’t balanced with sufficient amounts of Omega-3s, problems can ensue. “When blood is too ‘sticky,’ it promotes clot formation, and this can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
So, yes, our bodies need both Omega 3 and Omega 6, but for optimum health they have to be “balanced.” An ideal ratio between Omega 6s and Omega 3s is between 1:1 and 4:1.
The problem — and it’s a big problem! — is that today’s Western diet is severely out of balance. Following this type of diet results in taking in about 20 times more Omega 6 than Omega 3!
Therefore, another thing you can do to treat your Eczema, in addition to increasing your intake of Omega 3, is decrease the Omega 6 that you consume.
So, back to the question I posed at the beginning of this article: Using Omega 3, How Long To Treat Eczema?
Unfortunately, I cannot give you a specific answer to the question because an answer depends on such things as your dosage and type and extent of Eczema you have. What I can tell you is that you should consult with your physician and follow your doctor’s advice to get the best and fastest result.