Bacteria Laden Cream Helps Eczema

Can putting bacteria on your skin actually cure disease? Perhaps.

Eczema (which is also called atopic dermatitis) is a common skin condition. People with eczema have itchy, scaly, dry skin. It often develops in infancy and improves as you get older. Some people with severe eczema have the disease for their whole lives. Atopic dermatitis seems to develop in people because they have both an imperfection in their skin’s barrier and because their immune system is a over-active.

A new way of thinking about eczema, as well as many other diseases, is that there is also an imbalance of bacteria living on your skin. Each of us has literally trillions of bacteria living on our skin as well as in our intestines and respiratory tracts. Whereas we traditionally think of infection from bacteria as causing disease, it seems that some diseases might be the result of loosing normal bacteria. This is why many people take probiotics and eat yogurt for gastrointestinal disorders — eating these bacteria-laden foods and supplements replenish normal bacteria — bacteria that is meant to live with us. These species of bacteria that share our bodies are known as normal flora (sounds like were walking flower gardens, doen’t it?).

Now a study from the United Kingdom has found that applying a cream that contains a non-pathogenic bacteria, Vitrescilla filiformis, to patients who have eczema can actually treat their skin condition. The study, published in the British Journal of Dermatology, found that patients treated with cream with a 5% concentration of the bacteria for 30 days had significantly reduced eczema, itching, and sleeplessness (from scratching at night) as compared to patients who applied a placebo cream that did not contain the bacteria.

The authors speculate that using the bacteria laden cream might work because the heavy concentration of “good” bacteria displaces “bad” or pathogenic bacteria such as Staph aureus. It might also be that restoring the normal flora on your skin helps to calm the immune system, decreasing the eczema in these patients. 

In either case, the results of this study are interesting. I think that in the future we will be reading much more about the importance of mantaining a healthy growth of bacteria on your skin. Of course, this does not mean that next time you hurt yourself, you should “rub some dirt on it,” like Peyton Manning recommends. Dirt has lots of not-so-good bacteria in it that is likely to do more harm then good.

Then again, Peyton has a superbowl ring and I don’t, so maybe you should listen to him.

4 thoughts on “Bacteria Laden Cream Helps Eczema”

  1. Please don’t post this. Rather, it’s a topic I would like to see addressed in your blog: Could you discuss the management of oily, somewhat blemish- and blackhead-prone facial skin that also develops discrete patches of very dry, rough, red, peeling, itchy, ugly eczema? The patient benefits greatly from Tazorac to clear the pores in the oily areas but the drug wreaks havoc on the eczema patches. Selectively painting Tazorac on some areas and a heavy moisturizer on others doesn’t work; it all ends up everywhere, and the entire face suffers. I’ve never seen the topic addressed, and the patient’s derm acknowledges that it’s unusual. The patient had eczema as a child, experienceed it as an adult first on the hands (the blistering kind) and then later on the face after taking antibiotics to treat a skin infection. The infection went away but the eczema won’t. Interestingly, the derm suggested staying away from dairy, including probiotic yogurt, to test whether hormones (and maybe antibiotics?) given to cows are causing or contributing to breakouts. Might probiotics taken in pill form or in yogurt help eczema, or is that course likely to help only with gastrointestinal issues? Has anyone studied this?

  2. “I had Eczema…”

    In the beginning, it cropped up in common places like my elbows and wrists. I could hide behind long sleeves in the winter – but it wasn’t long before summer rolled around and shorts, t-shirts and sandals.

    And that’s when you’d hear the whispers. The gossip. The questionable looks from teachers and other parents who wondered if you were getting abused at home for all the red, irritable patches on your skin that looked like someone punched you straight in the face.

    “I Didn’t Want My Son to Be Called All Those Awful Names and Silently Endure the Pain I Suffered With for Years”

    Names like “Leper”, “Creep” and “Scaly” still ring in the back of my mind like it was yesterday. That’s why, when I started noticing Samuel scratching his back against a door frame, I lifted up his shirt and noticed all the sure-fire signs of eczema:

  3. Blotchy red skin?

    * Scaly patches with oozing
    * Incredible itching that keeps coming back
    * Skin that would heal and then break out again

    As a skin care specialist with a medical background, I wanted to be sure I wasn’t missing something, so I took my son to a dermatologist. It was just as I expected. He sent us home with a bunch of creams and ointments to try.

    And I knew the terrible truth:

    “All Those Smelly Creams and Remedies Worked – For Awhile…But The Eczema Came Back Even Worse!”

    The eczema seemed hell-bent on vengeance for every thick cream and goopy ointment we tried – so I did something I thought I’d never try, but I felt like I owed it to my son to give him a better chance at fighting this condition than I ever had…

    “How a Natural Remedy Helped Cure My Son’s Eczema – Permanently!”

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