Due to the nature of the compromised skin barrier in an eczema patient, it contains less of the natural moisturizers and fats than that of a healthy individual, and its ability to retain its moisture and water content is heavily diminished. Around 20% of the skins outer layer is actually comprised of essential fatty acids (EFA's) which performs the task of keeping our skin barrier intact. This is why essential fatty acids are so very important.
Why are essential fatty acids important for Eczema?
Essential fatty acids are called ‘essential’ because the body cannot produce them and so we must source this nutrient from our diet which is why it is important to eat a diet rich in these fats, however if you are not eating enough of the right foods, then supplementation is definitely worth considering.
The processes which essential fatty acids play in our system are extensive and range from regulating blood functions, thyroid, adrenal and liver functions, to blocking formations of cancers and tumors and assisting in brain and nervous system development which has been linked to Alzheimers. The aspects which are of most interest to us in this article however is the anti-inflammatory characteristics which can help auto immune disease symptoms such as eczema, as well as arthritis. Also another key part for us here is essential fatty acids role in healthy cell development and protection of the cells.
You have probably heard of the term Omega 3’s or Omega 6’s and you may have even tried to figure out what the difference is and why it matters. Basically, we need both for a host of important body functions. Omega 3's are very good for you, while Omega 6's are still good for you and very necessary, they do fall into either inflammatory or anti-inflammatory. So it is important to know where the different types live.
Firstly, Omega 3’s are not so easy to come by and their role is crucial to our health. Finding Omega 3’s in the diet you will need to look to sources such as oily fish, chia seeds and flaxseed (linseed) which also comes in convenient oil.
Secondly, its important to source your Omega 6's from the right place as you could be ingesting the type which can actually cause inflammation. Meat and dairy products contain a high amount of arachidonic acid which is a type of omega-6 fat that can promote inflammation. A good type of Omega 6 fat is GLA (gamma linolenic acids) is mostly found in borage, hemp or evening primrose oils as well as spirulina which is generally the staple ingredient in Supergreens, which I have also written about. A study performed actually demonstrated a reduction in the redness and itching of eczema patients after a 4-8 week treatment of evening primrose oil supplementation. The only contradiction was from those who used cortisone creams and the result was they found less reduction in their symptoms.
The link between skin issues such as eczema and a diet low in essential fatty acids is important to be aware of. A study of a group of men and women with eczema was performed by adding flaxseed oil to their diet over 12 weeks and after that period, water loss was dramatically reduced as well as significantly less flaking, redness and roughness.
It is worth noting that the above case study used olive oil as the placebo and the people who only took olive oil were concluded to show no significant change.
While there are many other studies done on this subject, I believe you probably already get the point. Good fats are super important, even more so when pregnant, so make good fats part of your daily grind and you will be on your way to feeling more comfortable in your own skin.
There are many types of oils which are promoted as treatments for skin conditions such as eczema. While many of them are still beneficial for your health and contain wonderful nutritional value, I am only listing the types which we have found have the strongest scientific connection to helping improve eczema as well as the highest rated individual products:
Flaxseed oil: NatureWise Organic Flaxseed Oi
Krill oil: Viva Labs Krill Oil