Does leaky gut cause eczema? This is a common question parents ask regarding their child’s eczema. Atopic dermatitis (AKA eczema) is healed from the outside (skin) as well as the inside (gut). Healing the gut involves taking probiotics and eating a good, wholesome diet (among other things). I have found from my own children that giving them probiotics has made a big difference in their skin. More research is needed before concluding that a “leaky gut” can lead to eczema and other chronic diseases, but it seems there is more information showing this connection.
What does “leaky gut syndrome” mean?
There is a lot of research showing how “leaky gut syndrome” happens and how it impacts our health . The term “leaky gut” (also called intestinal hyperpermeability), occurs when the barrier that protects the gut from absorbing larger particles loses its function and allows substances to pass through it and into our body . In other words, things that shouldn’t pass from the gut, gets absorbed into the body and causes problems.
Chronic conditions such as asthma, eczema, psoriasis and others are associated with leaky gut syndrome. .
What is the connection between leaky gut and eczema?
Leaky gut can cause eczema due to a lack of bacterial diversity in the gut, which can interfere with immune system development. In other words, gut bacteria is important for the immune system to work properly in children and not cause eczema 
What are signs of leaky gut?
Leaky gut can present with mild skin and gastrointestinal symptoms including, but not limited to, diarrhea, bloating, constipation, headache, fatigue, brain fog, and skin problems such as acne, or eczema . So in short, if you’re asking “does leaky gut cause eczema?”, the answer is yes.
How do you diagnose leaky gut?
Currently there is no specific test to diagnose a leaky gut [1,2]. It is important to get checked out by your child’s pediatrician if you have symptoms to rule out other medical problems.
Why has eczema become so common, especially in kids?
There are several possible reasons for why this happens.
1) Changes in the gut flora
It is normal for the gut to have different organisms that do not pose any harm to the individual but when there is a change in the normal flora, this can affect how the immune system works . This is more common in children because their immune system is still developing.
2) Overuse of medications
The use of antibiotics early in life, especially in children with family history of eczema, can lead to a higher risk of eczema .
Ways to control eczema
1) Determine food allergies or sensitivities
Certain foods are common eczema triggers. It helps to know what foods to avoid while your child likely outgrows food allergies and sensitivities. Click here to read more about what foods to eat and avoid for eczema.
2) Optimize the gut flora
A healthy gut flora helps immune system development during childhood. It is also responsible for maintaining the gut barrier. This helps to maintain and possibly prevent eczema. The gut can be optimized with probiotics including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains.  Click here to read more about how probiotics can help eczema.
3) Have your kids play outside and get a little dirty
“Hygiene hypothesis” is a term from the 80’s. It means that allergic conditions (such as asthma, eczema) developed due to poor germ exposure. Being exposed to bacterias and viruses to a certain extent is actually good because it helps build immunity. Preventing kids from coming in contact with germs may do more harm than good in the long run. [5,7]
4) Apply natural topical treatments to the skin
Keeping the skin hydrated and moisturized helps maintain a good skin barrier.
5) Supplement with Vitamin D
Vitamin D can decrease the severity of eczema .
Click here to read more about how Vitamin D can help eczema
What are the conventional treatments for eczema?
Eczema is generally treated with moisturizers and sometimes prescription-strength topical steroids when the flare up is hard to control with anything else. .
What are holistic treatments for eczema?
Holistic treatment refers to alternative treatment for eczema. Sometimes these include homeopathic medicine, oriental medicine, etc. There is not much evidence for these at the time.
Another way to think about treating eczema holistically involves looking skin deep, or even deeper… into the gut. There is more evidence showing that probiotics can help eczema and even possibly prevent it in certain high-risk children. .
Click here to read about essential oils and aromatherapy and if it can help eczema.
How is the gut connected to the skin?
The gut’s job is to absorb food and nutrition to feed the body. Sometimes it can absorb bad things such as bacteria/viruses/toxins. After the body absorbs these things, it circulates and goes to various organs including the skin. If the skin is affected, then usually other body parts will be affected as well.
The gut is also responsible for developing the immune system . With a healthy immune system, the skin is able to block harmful external toxins and pathogens.
What can help heal the gut?
A healthy gut begins with avoiding foods that cause inflammation or gut irritation such as sugar and processed foods. It is also important to look out for food sensitivities such as gluten and dairy. Probiotics can improve the gut microbiome, which can improve the immune system .
What are Attributing Factors of Childhood Eczema
1) Birth Route
Studies have shown that there is an association between birth route and the development of eczema possibly due to exposure to certain bacteria .
Infants delivered vaginally are exposed to maternal gut flora when they pass through the birth canal. This exposes infants to the mother’s flora and helps to develop an immune response.
In contrast, infants who are delivered via Cesarean section have less exposure to the mother’s flora, so there is less chance of developing a healthy immune system .
2) Breast or Formula Fed
Breast milk may prevent inflammation, improve immunity, and decrease the likelihood of eczema in infants [11,12]. There is still more research needed as the results are inconsistent.
The WHO recommends breastfeeding until 2 years old and starting solid food at 6 months old. .
There is also inconsistent evidence of whether formula milk can cause eczema. [11,12]. If your child does have eczema, find the best formula for eczema here.
3) Antibiotic Use
The use of antibiotics disrupts the normal gut flora as these medications kill off or prevent the growth of gut flora bacteria. The imbalance in the gut microbes can cause the immune system to not function properly and cause eczema .
How do probiotics help eczema?
Probiotics are good bacteria and prevent invasion of harmful bacteria. Probiotics also help restore the impaired barrier function that led to the “leak” [3,6].
I hope this article helps you answer the question, “Does leaky gut cause eczema?” It sheds light on why treating the gut is important for those with eczema. Remember, eczema is treated from the inside (gut) and outside (skin).