Fish oil, which contains omega-3 fatty acids, has been shown to be beneficial for people with eczema or dermatitis. As a Naturopath that specialises in treating eczema and dermatitis, I'm always working on treating the underlying drivers of the condition and not just on reducing symptoms.
Here are five ways that fish oil can help improve eczema symptoms:
1. Reduces inflammation: Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil can help reduce inflammation in the body, which can improve eczema symptoms. Inflammation is a major contributor to eczema and reducing it can help alleviate symptoms such as redness, itching, and swelling. 2. Improves skin barrier function: Fish oil can help improve the skin's barrier function, which is important for people with eczema because their skin barrier is often compromised. A stronger skin barrier can help reduce water loss from the skin and prevent irritants and allergens from entering the skin, which can trigger eczema flares. 3. Increases hydration: Fish oil can help increase skin hydration, which is important for people with eczema because their skin is often dry and itchy. Improved skin hydration can help reduce itching and irritation and make the skin feel smoother and more comfortable. 4. Boosts immune function: Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil can help boost immune function, which is important for people with eczema because their immune system is often overactive and can contribute to eczema flares. A stronger immune system can help reduce the severity and frequency of eczema flares. 5. Enhances overall health: Fish oil has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease, improving brain function, and reducing inflammation throughout the body. Improving overall health can help people with eczema feel better and reduce the severity of their symptoms.
Is fish oil for everyone??
No, there are always exceptions!
Fish allergies is an obvious one. I have had several eczema clients with a fish allergy or intolerance, and fish oil obviously isn't going to be the best option for these people. In this case there are other ways to boost fatty acid levels that would be more appropriate. Algae oil contains omega-3 fatty acids and is often a better option for certain people and Evening Primrose oil is one of a few other options available.
Histamine intolerance or high histamine levels. People with eczema can sometimes have higher histamine levels or histamine intolerance and a fish oil supplement (particularly a fermented fish oil), could be problematic. I'll go over this topic in more detail in another blog, but if you think this might be you, you can work with a Naturopath on your gut health and other areas that impact histamine production and clearance to sort this out.
For people with eczema, higher doses of omega-3 fatty acids, ranging from 2-10 grams per day may be the most beneficial. However, fish oil at higher doses can cause diarrhea or very smelly flatulence in some people. It's best to work with a practitioner that can help you with the best type and dose of Omega-3 supplementation but, if you want to go it alone, start with a smaller dose of fish oil and gradually increase to help prevent diarrhoea and excess wind.
And my last important point, fish oil supplements may increase the risk of bleeding and interact with certain medications, so again, it's best to talk to your practitioner before taking higher doses of fish oil.
My Final Big Tip! Now listen carefully.....
People will say this to me a lot, (and not just in relation to fish oil supplements, but lots of different natural interventions), "I've tried that and it didn't do anything".
OK so sometimes they're right and it just isn't the right treatment for them. But sometimes, when I get more details I realise - the dose was too low, it wasn't for long enough, it was the only thing they tried (ie. it wasn't in conjunction with other essential interventions needed for good results), the quality of the supplement was quite poor, and so on.
You may not get the results you want just from adding a fish oil to your routine, although there's some pretty good research out there to suggest that some people do. But don't give up! When you address all of the underlying drivers for your eczema, the results will come, and you might just need a little help getting there.