Atopic Dermatitis or eczema is common inflammatory skin condition that often appears in early infancy and may persist into the adulthood. Some of the clinical features include itching, redness and scaling of the skin. These symptoms have been shown to affect the quality of life in children and their parents. The first line of treatment for eczema includes topical steroids. However, many parents are concerned about thinning of the skin and other side effects of this treatment.
Recent evidence has shown that eczema patients may have significant oxidative stress as a result of inflammatory reactions from immune cells in the body. It is believed that consumption of antioxidants may decrease oxidative stress and therefore improve eczema conditions.
So, are there any clinical studies or evidence that prove this concept?
In one study published in 2010, a group of Japanese investigators studied 763 Japanese mother–child pairs. Comprehensive questions regarding mothers’ diet history and incidences of eczema in the child were recorded. The mothers were organized into 4 groups based on the amount of green and yellow vegetables they consumed during pregnancy. The study showed that mothers who consumed a large quantity of green and yellow vegetables during pregnancy provided a significant protective benefit against the development of eczema in their kids. Furthermore, the study showed eating citrus fruit during pregnancy also decreased the risk of eczema in the children.
What vegetables were eaten by those pregnant Japanese women?
Green and yellow vegetable: carrots, pumpkin, tomatoes, tomato juice, sweet peppers, broccoli, and dark-green leafy vegetables such as spinach and komatsuna. Intake of other vegetables included that of cabbage, cucumber, lettuce, Chinese cabbage, bean sprouts, Japanese radish, onion, cauliflower, eggplant, burdock, lotus root, vegetable juice, umeboshi, and salt pickles.
Fruit consumption was defined as intake of raisins, canned fruits, fruit juice, citrus fruit, bananas, apples, strawberries, grapes, peaches, Japanese pears, Japanese persimmons, kiwifruit, melon, and watermelon.
Bottom Line: the study showed that taking oral antioxidants, such as vegetables and fruit, during pregnancy has the potential to decrease the risk of developing eczema in the children. This is an indirect evidence suggesting that eczema patients may have high oxidative stress and reduction of oxidative stress may help with symptoms of eczema.