This Cochrane review concludes, they’re “not an effective treatment for eczema.”

First, the details.

  • The reviewers searched for well-designed studies of live microorganisms that could be taken by mouth.
  • 12 studies involving 781 children were included in the review.

And, the results.

  • No benefit based on child or parent-rated symptom scores was found in the following criteria.
    • Symptom severity with probiotics vs placebo
    • Overall eczema severity
  • No benefit based on researcher-rated eczema severity
  • There were significant differences in the results of studies, perhaps due to the use of different probiotic strains.
  • Evaluating the results based on age, eczema severity, presence of atopy (predisposition to allergy), or presence of food allergy revealed no groups that might benefit.
  • Side effects included some reports of infections and bowel ischemia associated with using probiotics.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “It is possible that different types of probiotics which haven’t yet been studied in eczema treatment could be more effective.” But the currently available probiotics do not seem to be effective.

It should be noted that emphasis was on treating eczema. A study reported here reported that infants receiving Lactobacillus rhamnosus had a significantly reduced risk of eczema compared with placebo.

10/22/08 18:35 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.