Eczema is a long-term condition that causes the skin to become itchy, red, dry and cracked, according to the NHS. It most often appears in children before their first birthday, but could also develop in later life. Symptoms vary between small patches of dry skin, and large areas of red and inflammation skin all over the body. You could lower your risk of painful eczema symptoms by taking blackcurrant oil supplements, it’s been claimed.
Blackcurrant oil is used to promote healthy growth of skin, hair and nails, said physical Dr Andrew Weil.
They’re a natural source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which has been claimed to improve the health of the skin.
Blackcurrants themselves also contain high levels of polyphenols – chemical compounds that may help to reduce inflammation.
“Black currant fruit is the most common form used, but black currant oil is also valued for its traditional medicine uses,” said Weil.
“Black currant oil contains GLA, which studies show may support the immune system, and reduce total cholesterol and triglycerides while boosting beneficial high-density cholesterol.
“Very hard to come by in the diet, GLA is an effective anti-inflammatory agent with none of the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs.
“It also promotes healthy growth of skin, hair, and nails.
“I recommend it frequently for skin conditions [including brittle nails and hair], arthritis, autoimmune disorders, and premenstrual syndrome.”
If you decide to take blackcurrant oil supplements, take 500mg twice a day, he added.
But, don’t be surprised if you don’t see results for at least six to eight weeks.
Alternatively, try taking the same dosage of ‘evening primrose oil’, added the physician. It should have the same effect as blackcurrant oil.
There’s currently no cure for eczema, and treatments aim to reduce symptoms.
Some emollients and creams could be used to treat dry skin. A doctor may prescribe a topical corticosteroid cream to reduce swelling.
It’s crucial that patients avoid scratching, as it could damage the skin and make symptoms worse.
Keeping nails short and wearing light clothing over affected areas could help to reduce damage from habitual scratching.
Speak to a pharmacist if you’re worried about the signs of eczema, or for advice on the best over-the-counter treatments.