Research has shown that people with skin conditions often turn to complementary health approaches, particularly vitamin, mineral, and herbal supplements. In spite of interest in complementary approaches, there have been only a few studies on complementary health approaches for skin conditions, and those that have been conducted have often had methodological problems. This issue of the digest provides a summary of the current available evidence about complementary health approaches for skin conditions, including atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, acne, impetigo, and rosacea.
Skin Condition and Summary of Evidence
According to the American Academy of Dermatology’s clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of atopic dermatitis, there is inconsistent to no evidence to recommend the use of fish oils, evening primrose oil, borage oil, multivitamin supplements, zinc, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamins B12 and B6 for the treatment of atopic dermatitis. Further, the guidelines state that the use of probiotics/prebiotics for the treatment of patients with established atopic dermatitis is not recommended because of inconsistent evidence.
There is some limited evidence that relaxation techniques may help improve symptoms of atopic dermatitis, particularly in the pediatric population, although most clinical studies are not methodologically rigorous. There is currently no evidence that acupuncture has any beneficial effects in the management of atopic dermatitis.
There is some evidence that fish oil, Dead Sea climatotherapy, and the topical herbs Mahonia aquifolium and indigo naturalis may be beneficial for the treatment of psoriasis.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology’s clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of acne, there are currently very limited data regarding the safety and efficacy of herbal and other complementary therapies to recommend their use.
There is insufficient evidence to either recommend or dismiss herbal treatments for impetigo, including tea tree oil, garlic, coconut oils, tea effusions, and Manuka honey.