Probiotics and prebiotics in atopic dermatitis: Pros and cons (Review)

Exp Ther Med. 2021 Dec;22(6):1376. doi: 10.3892/etm.2021.10811. Epub 2021 Sep 28.


Atopic dermatitis (AD) represents a chronic inflammatory skin condition in which the skin barrier is impaired; thus, the permeability is increased. Hence, there is a greater risk of allergic sensitization, as well as a higher pH and lower protection against resident microbes. Since this condition is currently increasing among children, it requires further study, as little is known regarding the pathogenesis that makes the skin prone to chronic relapsing inflammation. Trying to standardize the data regarding the use of prebiotics and probiotics in AD, we encountered tremendous variability in the literature data. Literature abounds in conflicting data: studies regarding prophylactic and therapeutic applications, different types of strains and dosages, applications in young children up to 5 years of age and above, usage of probiotics alone, prebiotics alone or synbiotics combined. There are also conflicting data regarding the outcome of these studies; some confirming a positive effect of prebiotics, probiotics or synbiotics and some showing no efficacy at all. The articles were divided into those assessing probiotics or prebiotics alone and a combination of the two, with studies showing a positive effect and studies proving no efficacy at all. We tried to critically analyze those articles showing weak and strong points. In summary, the most studied probiotics were the strains of Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. The Severity Scoring of Atopic Dermatitis (SCORAD) index was used to measure the efficacy of the treatment. Most studies compared their results with a placebo group and the efficacy when seen in moderate to severe forms of AD in patients with other allergic diseases present. However, the results are difficult to interpret, as in many studies the authors suggest that the disease may have a tendency to improve in time in some groups of patients.

Keywords: atopic dermatitis; chronic ski inflammation; gut microbiome; prebiotics; probiotics; synbiotics.

Publication types

  • Review

Grants and funding

Funding: No funding was received.