Research suggests there is a link between eczema and gut health. Specifically, it indicates that a person’s gut flora can influence the skin, in what scientists call the gut-skin axis. The microbiome is the set of bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms that live in and on the body. While many of these organisms live in the intestines, their impact goes far beyond digestion.
Many skin disorders often occur alongside an altered gut microbiome, according to a 2021 study. This includes atopic dermatitis, which is a specific type of eczema. In this article, we’ll explore the relationship between eczema, gut health, and the microbiome. We’ll also look at the causes of microbiome imbalances and treatments that can help both the gut and the skin.
Yes, research suggests that eczema and gut health are linked. The body contains many species of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses. These organisms have different effects on human health. Most of these microbes live inside the intestine, especially the large intestine. However, some also live on the skin. Scientists have discovered that the gut microbiome and the skin microbiome influence each other.
When there is an imbalance in the intestinal or skin flora, it is called dysbiosis. This can happen if there is:
– there are too many “bad” species
– there are not enough “good” species
– there is not enough diversity of species
In people with atopic dermatitis, which is a type of eczema, dysbiosis may play a role in the development of the disease.
How Gut Health Influences Eczema
Here’s what researchers know so far about this link.
Studies have shown that in people with atopic dermatitis, the health of their gut microbiome is often compromised. The 2021 review notes that atopic dermatitis is associated with:
– lower bacterial diversity
– lower levels of beneficial species, such as Bacteroidetes, Akkermansia, and Bifidobacterium
– higher amounts of harmful bacteria species, such as Staphylococcus aureus.
Specifically, people with atopic dermatitis may experience higher levels of:
– Staphylococcus aureus
– Faecalibacterium prausnitzii
They may also have lower levels of helpful species of bacteria, such as:
This indicates a link between dysbiosis and atopic dermatitis.
The immune response
Symptoms of atopic dermatitis are caused by the immune system. When the immune system perceives a threat to the skin, it creates inflammation in response. This is what causes the itchy rash. Scientists believe dysbiosis in the gut and on the skin may be the cause. The immune system may detect and react to harmful levels of “bad” germs on the skin. Dysbiosis and eczema can then create a cycle of inflammation that perpetuates symptoms. According to the 2021 review, changes in the microbiome can also alter the immune response, leading to its dysregulation.
The walls of the intestines are permeable. This means that substances can pass through them. In some people, the intestinal walls allow more substances through than they should. Some speak of “leaky gut”, although this is not a medical diagnosis in its own right.
Scientists know that certain beneficial species of bacteria produce by-products that help the intestinal barrier function more efficiently. These include some of the species that people with atopic dermatitis may have in lower amounts, such as bifidobacteria. This could explain why some studies have found a correlation between atopic eczema and increased intestinal permeability. However, further research on this topic is needed to fully understand this link.
What causes gut and skin dysbiosis?
Many aspects of daily life influence the microbiome. Dysbiosis can develop due to:
– Oral antibiotics: Oral antibiotics work by killing all species of bacteria with which they come into contact. This means that they do not differentiate between “good” and “bad” species that live in the gut. Repeated or long-term antibiotic treatments are associated with dysbiosis.
– Other medications: A 2020 study assessed the effect of different medications on the microbiome and found that those with the strongest link to dysbiosis, aside from antibiotics, included laxatives, and inhibitors of the blood pump. protons (IPP).
– Smoking and Nicotine: A 2021 study indicates that, according to previous research, people who smoked had higher amounts of harmful bacterial strains and lower amounts of beneficial strains. The researchers also found that quitting smoking led to an increase in diversity.
Lack of human contact during and after birth: Vaginal birth, skin-to-skin contact, and breastfeeding are all opportunities for newborns to be exposed to another human’s microbiome early on. , allowing them to start developing their own. However, babies who arrive by caesarean section, who have little contact with other people, or who only receive formula may not benefit from this exposure. This disproportionately affects people from low-income backgrounds.
Many other elements also impact the microbiome, although there is less research linking them directly to dysbiosis. These include in particular:
Diet: The Western diet tends to be high in inflammatory foods, like saturated fat, which can contribute to dysbiosis.
Lack of vitamin D: Sunlight contains UVB rays, which allow the skin to make vitamin D. Vitamin D is associated with greater diversity in the microbiome, so a lack of this nutrient can inhibit the diversity.
Stress: A 2018 study says animal research indicates that stress negatively affects the microbiome. More research is needed to prove the effect on humans.
Some scientists believe that the modern preference for regular washing and bathing and the use of household cleaning products may damage the microbiome. This could explain why rural and indigenous communities tend to have lower rates of inflammatory disease than urban communities. However, the “hygiene hypothesis” is currently only a theory. Other aspects of the urban way of life could explain this difference.
There is currently no way to check if a person’s eczema is related to the gut. However, there are certain diagnostic tests that a doctor can use to assess a person’s overall gut health. These include:
– a gut microbiome test
– an intestinal permeability test
– a calprotectin test, which measures intestinal inflammation.
It should be noted that due to the large number of species present in the microbiome, microbiome tests cannot measure all species.
Can diet help?
The microbiome is very responsive to changes in diet. Through diet, a person may be able to promote more “good” bacteria.
A 2021 study looked at the effect of different foods on the composition of the gut microbiome. The authors found that a certain diet is linked to higher amounts of microbial species that have anti-inflammatory effects. The diet tested by the researchers placed more emphasis on plant foods and less on animal foods.
The foods to eat were:
beans and peas
low-fat fermented dairy products, such as yogurt
Foods to avoid are
high-fat processed meats
However, it is important to note that this is not a cure for eczema. On the contrary, changes in diet can promote overall health. This can have a ripple effect on the skin and reduce symptoms in some people.
Can probiotics help?
Probiotics are another name for the “good” microorganisms that are part of the microbiome. They can be obtained from food or supplements. Research to date on whether probiotics help eczema is mixed. The 2021 review notes that a number of studies have shown Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium to be helpful for atopic dermatitis. They can also have a protective effect on the microbiome when a person needs to take antibiotics, which can reduce the risk of developing dysbiosis.
However, a 2018 review of 39 clinical trials with 2,599 participants found the supplements made little to no difference in relieving eczema symptoms, such as sleep loss and itching. This suggests that probiotics may not be a cure for eczema, but they may help promote gut health or prevent imbalances. It should be noted that probiotics are not always suitable for everyone and can have side effects and risks. Consult a physician before trying any new supplements or major dietary changes.
The link between eczema and gut health lies in the gut-skin axis, which refers to how the gut flora influences the microbes that live on the skin. Scientists aren’t sure exactly how it works, but they think an imbalanced microbiome may play a role in the inflammation and immune response that cause eczema. Microbiome imbalance, or dysbiosis, is when a person has too many “bad” species of microbes, not enough “good” species, or a general lack of diversity.
Changes that promote a healthy microbiome, such as a plant-based and anti-inflammatory diet, may help some people relieve their symptoms. However, further research is needed to understand how the microbiome may be relevant to the treatment of eczema.
Gut–Skin Axis: Current Knowledge of the Interrelationship between Microbial Dysbiosis and Skin Conditions
DePessemier, B., et al. (2021). Gut–skin axis: Current knowledge of the interrelationship between microbial dysbiosis and skin conditions.
Karl, JP, et al. (2018). Effects of psychological, environmental and physical stressors on the gut microbiota.
Probiotics for treating eczema. (2018).
* The information and services available on pressesante.com in no way replace the consultation of competent health professionals. [HighProtein-Foods.com]