Vegans and Eczema: Is There a Link?
Vegan and vegetarian diets have become increasingly popular in recent years. While they can come along with a plethora of health benefits, there may be a link between plant-based diets and eczema and dry skin.
More research needs to be done on the subject, but I have noticed in my Miami dermatology practice that many vegan patients struggle with dry skin. The potential connection makes sense, since fatty acids are an essential part of the diet to help keep your skin hydrated and healthy, among many other benefits. However, many of the largest food sources of fatty acids are derived from fish and animal products, making it difficult for vegans to get enough of these important nutrients.
Why Does My Skin Need Fatty Acids?
Dry skin types and those with eczema and other inflammatory skin problems inherently have an impaired skin barrier. The natural protective barrier of human skin ideally consists of a 1:1:1 ratio of fatty acids, cholesterol, and ceramides. When it is functioning properly, the skin’s barrier is able to seal moisture content inside and keep bacteria and other harmful particles out.
When the skin barrier is impaired, it does not contain the proper ratio of fatty acids, cholesterol, and ceramides and therefore cannot properly keep your skin hydrated and protected from external assaults. Because vegans may not be getting enough omega-3 fatty acids from food sources, the skin could be lipid deficient any may have trouble holding in moisture.
Vegan Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Some of the best-known dietary sources of omega-3s are salmon and other seafood, as well as fish oil. However, there are also plenty of plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Adding more of these foods and supplements to your vegan diet may help to relieve dry skin and signs of eczema:
- Flax seeds
- Flaxseed oil
- Chia seeds
- Olive oil
- Argan oil
- Safflower oil
How to Add Fatty Acids to Your Skin
In addition to adding plenty of foods rich in omega-3s to your diet, talk to your dermatologist about the right skin care products to use to help replenish your skin’s natural barrier ingredients. Look for a barrier repair moisturizer that uses MLE technology to deposit that 1:1:1 ratio of fatty acids, cholesterol, and ceramides onto your skin.
Many products use MLE technology, including one formulated specifically for sensitive skin called Zerafite Soothing and Calming Moisturizer. The Zerafite line also includes Ultra Rich Body Cream and a barrier repair face cream. These products are only available through physicians. If you are interested in trying them or learning more about how they work, find a Skin Type Solutions physician in your area to set up an appointment.
While it hasn’t yet been proven that a plant-based diet could contribute to dry skin or eczema, incorporating more omega-3-rich foods into your diet may be a good place to start. Stay tuned for more information as more research is conducted.
Be sure to follow Baumann Cosmetic Dermatology on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to stay in the know on all the latest studies linking plant-based diets with dry skin. You’ll also find tons of how-to videos, skin care tips and tricks, and more on our social media pages.
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