The Daily Lipid Podcast episode 20 is a recording of how Chris Masterjohn, PhD, beats Eczema with right probiotics and why soap maybe your worst enemy

Mastering Nutrition Episode 20 — How I Beat Eczema With the Right Probiotics, but Why Soap May Be Your Worst Enemy

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The Daily Lipid Podcast episode 20 is a recording of how Chris Masterjohn, PhD, beats Eczema with right probiotics and why soap maybe your worst enemy

In this episode, I tell the story of my own battle with eczema. I begin by describing my extraordinary recovery from extreme eczema using the right probiotic. I then describe how a more recent relapse led me to discover the incredible importance of mitigating soap exposure when gut-related approaches don't seem to work.

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Read on for the show notes.
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Show Notes for Episode 20

In this episode, you will find the following:

  • 03:04 Chris Kresser’s interview with Glenn Taylor on fecal microbiota transplants inspired this episode
  • 05:13  My own story with eczema
  • 07:07  Recovery with Primal Defense (now Primal Defense Ultra)
  • 08:54  Mild reoccurrence tied to poor gut, poor sleep, high work stress
  • 09:50  Key feature of an effective probiotic for me is S. boullardii plus bacteria                
  • 12:55   Prostaglandin E2, derived from arachidonic acid, plays a central role in preventing eczema by water-proofing the skin.
  • 15:30   Humidity can “hide” eczema by preventing water loss through a dysfunctional skin barrier.
  • 18:12   Minimizing exposure to soap with kitchen gloves and by avoiding unnecessary hand washing are central to preventing topical aggravation of eczema.
  • 23:30   Topical application of a fat — such as shea butter — after soap exposure can mitigate the damage caused by the soap.
  • 27:34    It's important to pay attention to both the internal, systemic causes of eczema and the external, topical factors that will aggravate eczema once it has started.

Links Related to Episode 20

Chris Kresser's interview with Glenn Taylor

My article Precious Yet Perilous tells the story of the discovery of essential fatty acid deficiency and the eczema it produced.

Some probiotics that have worked for me: Primal Defense Ultra (the one that initially resolved my extreme case of eczema), Ultimate Flora Advanced Immunity, Florastor; Prescript Assist seems to enhance the effect of something containing S. boulardii but doesn't help me much on its own.

I currently use this shea butter from Thrive Market, but I think any kind of fat would work well.

I currently use If You Care kitchen gloves from Thrive Market, which sells them for a little more than 20% off the price they sell for at Whole Foods. Bafflingly, Amazon is selling them for twice as much as what Thrive sells them for.

Have you found any of these tricks — or others — to help with eczema? Tell me about it in the comments!

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  1. Thank you so much for this information. I have/had excema myself, I totally agree on the soap thing. I still think that there is a cause of all this that needs addressing in your case, as you didn’t have excema before your change in diet. It would probably be worth finding out what it is. Maybe your diet can be optimized even further for you and then you don’t have to do all these things anymore to keep it at bay, which you didn’t have to do before your change in diet. Just because your new diet is better for you doesn’t necessarily mean it is optimal.

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  8. I am suspecting my high “good fat” diet is overloading my liver and causing my eczema. I am backing off after all these years of loading up on ghee, butter….. anyone else experience this? I rarely eat any grains, never gluten, no cow dairy, never sugar, while I do eat lots of ferments, take probiotics….. Could it be excess fat burden on the liver?

    1. I wouldn’t expect eczema to be a major symptom of liver issues, but certainly fat can contribute to fatty liver, especially in the context of excess calories, and especially if choline intake is low or oxidative stress is high.

  9. Chris, love your website! I too suffered eczema – for 20yrs on and off. A fellow sufferer told me he took part in clinical trials where he was treated with immunosuppressant drugs – he was obviously in bad a bad way to be offered this! The trial results suggested there is a possible autoimmune connection. Having a background in biochem/cell biology, I looked up the paper. This got me researching other papers and also autoimmune diseases. I came across the gut connection, gave up gluten, started making my own kefir and using coconut oil on my skin to completely resolve my eczema in months. Even a small amount of gluten flares it up for 3 weeks of agony. If I can find the paper, will post the link.

  10. Hi Chris 😊

    I learned a lot from this episode on probiotics and from the date it was posted I did order by Garden of Life products which; finally arrived this weekend. It was a long trip down to México. I so happy I have the opportunity to have access to such great blog.
    Have a great night!

  11. Something I’ve never understood that I was hoping would be mentioned is how do probiotics actually survive the digestion journey to the gut?

    Often you see pricey bugs in the refrigerator section, which makes you wonder, if they can’t survive at room temperature, what chance do they have at 98F?

    As an experiment for a TMAU condition, I grabbed as many different type of probiotics bacteria I could find (from dozens of supplement manufacturers) to make an anthrax/primordial soup yogurt, to see what would happen to my gut bacteria.. I used uBiome and the American Gut Project (Beyond Bacteria $2500) to get the makeup of the flora.

    Before submitting the samples, I used the Progurt Incubator to make the yogurt for several months beforehand.. I would save a batch in the freezer as the starter for the next. Not sure if the bacteria would play nice together when mixed, nor the effects of freezing, but was something I wanted to try.

  12. The shea butter link above (“I currently use this shea butter…”) takes me to the main Thrive Market page. Can you please name the shea butter you use and recommend? Thanks.

    1. Evolutionarily,

      I haven’t put as much thought into it, but I believe UV-B exposure is likely to be helpful.


  13. Thank you so much for doing this episode. It’s completely changed my understanding of the topic and I’m excited to try some of these strategies.

  14. Chris, really enjoyed this episode. I have a similar problem, but with what I assume to be a different cause: I am highly prone to fungal infections such as jock itch and athlete’s foot. I’m curious if you have written about causes and remedies for this annoyance. Thanks for everything you do.

    1. Hi Dan,

      Well, it could be a systemic thing. For example, you could have poor immune function driven by a nutrient deficiency, driven by too much adrenal output from stress or excessive exercise and inadequate rest and carbohydrate, driven by low thyroid hormone, or driven by iron overload.

      But these things are named after athletes for a reason. And that is because they are primarily driven by sweating in clothing that is not designed to accommodate the sweat. So, for example, if you work out and you use anything other than running socks or their equivalent, I recommend getting rid of this practice and exclusively using socks that are designed to wick sweat and to allow breathing such as running socks.

      And certainly, if you are working out in sneakers or shoes that are not specifically designed and marketed to be shoes for running or CrossFit or weightlifting or some sport, and do not have designs that allow breathing near the toes, you need to get rid of these and buy yourself the right shoes.

      Similarly, if you are wearing underwear while you exercise that is not specifically designed to wick sweat for an athlete, you need to get rid of these and get high-performance athletic underwear. I would recommend the expensive Under Armour ones.

      And of course, immediately after working out you should throw these in a laundry, take a shower, and put on a clean pair of underwear. I would add that if you do a lot of walking all of this applies to your walking just as much as it applies to your workouts.


  15. You provide support to many frustrated people with these podcasts – keep it up.
    A couple of points – like you said, any glove is fine – plus buy cotton liners from the dollar store and always put them on under the glove (because rubber can be an issue). Also, have you considered showering WITHOUT any soap – just water and a scrub (with a washcloth or loofa) – it keeps you clean without disrupting the lipid barrier and reducing TEWL?

  16. Hey Chris,

    Great show! I had a patient with the same issues. Mostly around the nose. I knew she was washing her face pretty heavy and we decided to go pretty much the same path you did and with great results. I also had her put liquid probiotics (coconut water based) on the eczema and this had fantastic results.
    I realized that specific nasal bacteria were being washed off the skin and altered due to the change in moisture. Here is a article that discusses the various bacteria mapped on the body….

  17. If I eat/drink foods that don’t irritate my gut (beer especially), I don’t have any issues. Once I start eating out too much and drink beer I get eczema.

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