Omega-3 Versus Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in the Prevention and Treatment of Inflammatory Skin Diseases

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Jan 23;21(3):741. doi: 10.3390/ijms21030741.


Omega-3 (ω-3) and omega-6 (ω-6) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are nowadays desirable components of oils with special dietary and functional properties. Their therapeutic and health-promoting effects have already been established in various chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases through various mechanisms, including modifications in cell membrane lipid composition, gene expression, cellular metabolism, and signal transduction. The application of ω-3 and ω-6 PUFAs in most common skin diseases has been examined in numerous studies, but their results and conclusions were mostly opposing and inconclusive. It seems that combined ω-6, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), and ω-3 long-chain PUFAs supplementation exhibits the highest potential in diminishing inflammatory processes, which could be beneficial for the management of inflammatory skin diseases, such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and acne. Due to significant population and individually-based genetic variations that impact PUFAs metabolism and associated metabolites, gene expression, and subsequent inflammatory responses, at this point, we could not recommend strict dietary and supplementation strategies for disease prevention and treatment that will be appropriate for all. Well-balanced nutrition and additional anti-inflammatory PUFA-based supplementation should be encouraged in a targeted manner for individuals in need to provide better management of skin diseases but, most importantly, to maintain and improve overall skin health.

Keywords: acne; atopic dermatitis; docosahexaenoic acid; eicosapentaenoic acid; gamma-linolenic acid; inflammatory skin diseases; nutraceuticals; polyunsaturated fatty acids; psoriasis; supplementation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / diet therapy*
  • Acne Vulgaris / immunology
  • Acne Vulgaris / microbiology
  • Acne Vulgaris / prevention & control
  • Dermatitis / diet therapy*
  • Dermatitis / immunology
  • Dermatitis / metabolism
  • Dermatitis / prevention & control
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / therapeutic use*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / immunology
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology
  • Humans
  • Psoriasis / diet therapy*
  • Psoriasis / immunology
  • Psoriasis / prevention & control
  • Toll-Like Receptors / immunology
  • Toll-Like Receptors / metabolism
  • gamma-Linolenic Acid / therapeutic use


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6
  • Toll-Like Receptors
  • gamma-Linolenic Acid