The Potential Uses of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Dermatology: A Review

J Cutan Med Surg. 2020 May 28;1203475420929925. doi: 10.1177/1203475420929925. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Background: A growing interest exists in the relationship between diet and skin disease, with many recent studies identifying a role for omega-3 fatty acids (O3FAs) in various dermatological conditions.

Objective: Our objective was to identify the spectrum of uses for O3FA supplementation reported in literature and to evaluate the current level of evidence for its clinical application in skin disease prevention and management.

Methods: A search was conducted using Ovid MEDLINE for primary literature that examined O3FA intake and skin health. A manual search of reference lists was performed to identify additional articles for inclusion.

Results: A total of 38 studies met eligibility for review, reporting benefits for O3FA supplementation in the treatment of psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, acne, and skin ulcers. Additionally, a reduced incidence of skin cancer and a decrease in the severity of drug-associated mucocutaneous side effects were reported with O3FA supplementation.

Conclusion: This review yielded many well-studied benefits of O3FA uses in dermatology. Given its high safety profile, low cost, and ease of supplementation, O3FA is a reasonable supplement that may benefit patients wishing to improve inflammatory skin conditions through diet. Areas of particular clinical interest where supplementation may be valuable include O3FAs for systemic UV photoprotection, as well as adjuvant treatment for acne to reduce both inflammatory lesion count and the severity of mucocutaneous side effects associated with isotretinoin use.

Keywords: omega-3 fatty acids; skin disease; skin health; treatment.