See also:

Allergy (food)

Skin Health (general)

Essential Fatty Acids

Those with eczema tend to have altered LFA metabolism, resulting in high levels of  linoleic acid, but low levels of GLA and omega 3 fatty acids; a scenario that is consistent with inflammation and allergy. Supplementation with GLA (from borage/evening primrose oil) and fish oils has resulted in marked improvements in several scientific studies. Flax oil may be of some value, but conversion of the essential fatty acids into the more valuable longer chain fatty acids such as GLA and DHA maybe impaired, resulting in limited benefits. Zinc and Vitamin A

Vitamin A is also necessary for proper health and integrity of skin tissue. A deficiency can lead to symptoms of eczema such as excessive skin thickening. Zinc is needed for proper skin healing and for the proper metabolism of the fatty acid GLA. Deficiencies in zinc are common in cases of eczema. Adequate zinc is also necessary for proper vitamin A utilisation in the maintenance of skin integrity.


The bioflavonoid quercetin reduces inflammatory and allergic processes by inhibiting the production of leukotriene.s and the release of histamine from the mast cells.

Allergies, especially to foods, are a major factor in the development of many cases of eczema.


The herb burdock has a long history of traditional use in chronic skin disorders. It may be of great value in eczema treatment due the anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits of its active compounds.

Digestive Aids

Eczema is often a result of allergic reactions which are triggered by the absorption of incompletely digested food proteins. The activity of hydrochloric acid and pancreatic protease enzymes is often deficient in those with food allergies. Stomach acid is required for the vital first step of protein digestion, therefore hypochlorhydria, or low stomach acid, is implicated in the development of allergies, where the immune system is triggered by incompletely digested proteins. Similarly, a lack of pancreatic enzymes also contributes to incomplete protein digestion and the potential for allergies. Support of stomach acid production and pancreatic enzymes is therefore a priority for those with food allergies.

Eczema/Dermatitis Summary

Nutrient/Herb Typical intake range

GLA (from borage oil or EPO) (1)

EPA/DHA (from fish oil) (2)

Zinc (3)

Vitamin A (4)

Quercetin (5)

Burdock extract

Betaine hydrochloride/pancreatin (6)

1 50 – 300mg GLA per day

700 – 2800mg EPA/DHA per day

1 5 – 30mg per day

5000 – 1 OOOOIU per day

500 – 2000mg per day (away from food)

500 – 3000mg per day

As per manufacturer’s directions

Reduce/avoid Increase

• Identify and eliminate food allergens

• Animal products

• Trans fats/hydrogen a ted fats

• Fried foods

Oily fish


Vegetable proteins

Fruit (especially berries)

Nuts and seeds

Whole grains


Lifestyle Factors

Identify and address potential food allergens.

Minimise exposure to environmental toxins.

Use only mild soaps and detergents on clothes.


1. Some reports suggest GLA is contraindicated in epilepsy. Epileptics should use only under medical supervision.

2. Do not take in conjunction with anticoagulant medication

3. May cause nausea on an empty stomach. High doses (>100mg per day) may suppress the immune system. Ensure sufficient copper and iron intake with zinc supplementation.

4. Do not use more than 2500IU during pregnancy. Long term high doses may result in toxicity. High levels not suitable for those with kidney disorders.

5. Possible potentiation of anti-diabetic medication and calcium channel hlockers – concurrent use under medical supervision only.

6. Do NOT use betaine hydrochloride if you suffer with stomach or duodenal ulcers, except on the advice of a physician. If you experience irritation after taking, reduce amount at next meal to a level where this does not occur. Intake may need to be altered based on the amount and type of food consumed.