The Role of Nutraceuticals in Atopic Dermatitis

Jacky Lo, MD,1 Joseph M. Lam, MD, FRCSC,2

1 is a resident in the Family Medicine Residency at the University of British Columbia. He was previously a registered dietitian at the College of Dietitians in BC.
2is a pediatric dermatologist and a clinical assistant professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Dermatology at the University of British Columbia.

CLINICAL TOOLS

Abstract: Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic relapsing and remitting dermatosis with no definitive cure. Because treatment often remains challenging, the use of nutraceuticals has been gaining popularity as an alternative therapy.
Key Words: Nutraceuticals, atopic dermatitis, prevention, treatment.
The use of prebiotics in formula fed infants may reduce the incidence of AD up until two years of life.
The use of prenatal and/or postnatal probiotics, especially with Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium, has been shown to reduce the incidence of AD. However, the evidence for its long-term effects appears to be inconsistent.
There is conflicting evidence regarding the use of vitamin D alone and zinc in the treatment of AD.
Routine supplementation of vitamin E alone and selenium does not appear to be beneficial in the treatment of AD.
While the use of fish oil has not been shown to have any statistically significant benefit in the treatment of AD, its use has been associated with improved quality of life, reduction in area affected in a pooled analysis of two studies and pruritus in one study.
Education plays an important in the management of AD and emphasis should be made to explore patients' reasons for turning to alternative therapies.
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