A Functional Approach to Eczema - What to Expect From Your Tiny Health Gut Health Test

A mom sits on the couch with her toddler and baby looking at Tiny Health gut health test results

Summary

.
.

Eczema impacts millions worldwide, often hitting children the hardest. While conventional treatments focus on calming skin inflammation, a functional approach digs deeper. It's like solving a puzzle—looking at every piece to uncover the root cause of eczema.

For some little ones, that missing piece may be found in their gut microbiome. But eczema triggers are as diverse as the children who experience it. It's a complex puzzle with many pieces—other factors, such as genetics, immune dysregulation, skin barrier dysfunction, allergens, and environmental triggers, contribute to its development and persistence. 

Understanding this complexity and what a gut microbiome test can unveil is key to managing expectations and embracing holistic approaches to treatment. Let's explore what a Tiny Health Gut Health Test reveals, what it doesn't, and how our programs provide comprehensive support every step of the way.

My child is struggling with eczema. What can a gut microbiome test tell me?

Eczema, though a skin condition, can be influenced by what's happening in the gut. It's all part of the 'gut-skin axis,' where the gut microbiome, gut barrier, and immune cells chat back and forth [1], [2], [3]. Essentially, what happens in your child’s gut may affect how their skin reacts to pesky microbes and environmental triggers.

Gut microbiome testing offers a glimpse into the microbial community residing in your little one's gut. While every gut microbiome is unique, in a healthy gut we want to see some bacteria at high levels, and others at low levels or even absent. We also know that depending on your little one’s age, we want to see a certain degree of microbiome maturation. If your child's gut bacteria are out of sync, it could throw their skin health off balance. Equipped with this knowledge, you can steer your child toward better overall health and hopefully eczema relief.

For some children with eczema, food may trigger symptoms. That’s why it’s important to know that a gut microbiome test won't reveal any food allergy, sensitivity, or intolerance.

Are there any metrics/parts of the report I should pay special attention to?

When reviewing your child’s results, a few metrics warrant special attention:

Levels of Bifidobacterium

Bifidobacterium are beneficial bacteria that produce short-chain fatty acids, influence the immune system, and keep disruptive microbes at bay [4], [5]. They should dominate the baby’s gut during the first months of life, especially those good at digesting breastmilk sugars, or HMOs [6]. The absence of these key bacteria may leave space for unfriendlies to grow unchecked, disrupt the gut barrier, or promote inflammation.

The Beneficial microbes category includes a section on Immune Strength where you can find the levels of Bifidobacterium

Maturation Index

Ideally, infant gut microbiome maturation is low before 4 months old and steadily increases until reaching adult-like maturity by the time your child is 3-5 years old [7], [8]. Early microbiome maturation in babies 0 to 6 months has been associated with higher risk of eczema [9]. Tiny Health’s maturation index measures the trajectory of your baby’s gut microbiome as it matures.

The Maturation index is displayed in the Balance and robustness category of your report

Opportunistic pathogens

When present in high levels, opportunistic pathogens may cause trouble by promoting inflammation and disrupting the gut barrier. A weakened gut barrier is more permeable, something that has been detected in those with eczema [10].

Opportunistic Pathogens are listed in the Disruptive Microbes category of your report

Overabundant species

Having too much of one species is not ideal for gut health. Unfriendly or variable species can stir up trouble at high levels. Too much of a single beneficial species is not optimal either, as by taking too much space, they contribute to low diversity. We want to see diversity increase as your baby’s gut microbiome matures.

If any overabundant species are detected in your sample, they are displayed within the Balance and robustness category

The Eczema Biomarker (only for babies up to 6 months old)

Scientists have identified certain gut bacteria that may be associated with a higher or lower risk of developing eczema in babies [11], [12], [13]. For babies up to 6 months old, the Tiny Health Gut Test reports the Eczema Biomarker, which shows whether your baby has an eczema microbiome signature. In simple words, this tells you whether your baby has an increased microbiome risk of developing eczema.

The Conditions Biomarkers section shows if your baby’s microbiome has a signature for eczema and other conditions 

If your baby is over 6 months old, microbiome testing can still provide valuable insight into their gut health. For babies who have already developed eczema, this predictive biomarker is less impactful. Addressing imbalances can help improve gut health, which may positively impact your baby’s skin and help alleviate symptoms.

My child’s results have several things flagged. What does this mean for their eczema?

It's not uncommon for gut microbiome tests to flag multiple areas. However, it's crucial to interpret these findings in the context of your child's overall health and symptoms. Having many flagged items doesn't necessarily indicate severe gut imbalances or eczema triggers. Instead, it reflects the complexity of the gut microbiome.

That said, research on the link between the gut microbiome and eczema is ongoing. It’s possible that other metrics, different from the ones discussed above, also play a role in your child’s symptoms. We recommend focusing on improving a few key metrics first. If you’re unsure, our microbiome specialists can guide you through the action plan to prioritize your next steps. Supporting overall gut health promotes a positive interaction between gut microbes and the immune system.

My little one's gut looks good—How is this possible? What does this mean?

If your child is struggling with eczema, discovering that their gut microbiome is in tip-top shape may come as a shock. 

For some little ones, the gut microbiome is a key player in the development of eczema. When imbalances are detected and addressed, symptoms may improve considerably. For others, the gut is just not part of the factors triggering their eczema. Other things like genetics and environmental triggers may be the reason behind their struggles. The only way to rule out gut health factors is through a gut microbiome test.

The gut microbiome changes rapidly during the first months of life and helps to train your baby’s immune system. Introducing solid foods, weaning, and the use of probiotics or supplements can significantly impact their microbiome composition. It’s possible that your child had imbalances early on that have since resolved, and their immune system needs more time to catch up.

We know it can be frustrating playing detective with your little one's health. Checking for gut imbalances is so valuable for their present and future well-being. Science is constantly uncovering new connections between the gut microbiome and a host of health conditions.

Comprehensive support for your eczema journey

At Tiny Health, we recognize the challenges of navigating eczema, especially when gut microbiome testing doesn't provide all the answers. That's why we go beyond testing alone, offering a holistic approach customized to your child's needs.

Tiny Health’s Eczema Gut Rebalance Program offers continuous support to help you manage your child's eczema. This program includes:

  • Functional coaching calls. 1-on-1 sessions with a microbiome specialist to guide you through your results, action plan, and progress.
  • Supplement recommendations. Carefully curated probiotic and other supplement suggestions, meticulously reviewed by our team of scientists.
  • Personalized dietary guidance. Tailored dietary advice, specifically calibrated to support your child's gut microbiome, immune system, and skin.
  • Parent-approved, science-backed products. Recommendations for eczema care routines and products for your child’s skin and your home. Our recommendations are backed by scientific research and vetted by our team.
  • Ongoing support and training. Comprehensive guidance during antibiotic treatment, dietary adjustments, and flare-ups, providing reassurance and guidance every step of the way.
  • Review and optimization. Thorough review of current eczema treatment strategies and exploration of alternative tactics. We empower you with a diverse toolkit for managing your child's eczema effectively.

If you are searching for answers for your little one’s eczema symptoms, you are not alone. Many families have discovered the power of healing the gut microbiome in their quest for relief. And if your child’s gut health test reveals a healthy, balanced microbiome, we want you to feel happy and empowered. By ruling out any gut imbalances, you have gained valuable insights into your child’s future health. We’re here to stand beside you on your family’s health journey, sharing additional advice on how to manage symptoms and support their microbiome for a healthier future.

References

[1] M. R. Mahmud et al., “Impact of gut microbiome on skin health: gut-skin axis observed through the lenses of therapeutics and skin diseases,” Gut Microbes, vol. 14, no. 1, p. 2096995, 2022, doi: 10.1080/19490976.2022.2096995.

[2] S. Sinha, G. Lin, and K. Ferenczi, “The skin microbiome and the gut-skin axis,” Clin. Dermatol., vol. 39, no. 5, pp. 829–839, 2021, doi: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2021.08.021.

[3] A. Y.-K. Thye et al., “Gut-Skin Axis: Unravelling the Connection between the Gut Microbiome and Psoriasis,” Biomedicines, vol. 10, no. 5, p. 1037, Apr. 2022, doi: 10.3390/biomedicines10051037.

[4] B. M. Henrick et al., “Bifidobacteria-mediated immune system imprinting early in life,” Cell, vol. 184, no. 15, Art. no. 15, Jul. 2021, doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2021.05.030.

[5] A. O’Callaghan and D. van Sinderen, “Bifidobacteria and Their Role as Members of the Human Gut Microbiota,” Front. Microbiol., vol. 7, p. 925, 2016, doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2016.00925.

[6] F. Turroni, C. Milani, S. Duranti, J. Mahony, D. van Sinderen, and M. Ventura, “Glycan Utilization and Cross-Feeding Activities by Bifidobacteria,” Trends Microbiol., vol. 26, no. 4, pp. 339–350, Apr. 2018, doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2017.10.001.

[7] J. Roswall et al., “Developmental trajectory of the healthy human gut microbiota during the first 5 years of life,” Cell Host Microbe, vol. 29, no. 5, Art. no. 5, May 2021, doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2021.02.021.

[8] F. Bäckhed et al., “Dynamics and Stabilization of the Human Gut Microbiome during the First Year of Life,” Cell Host Microbe, vol. 17, no. 5, Art. no. 5, May 2015, doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2015.04.004.

[9] G. Galazzo et al., “Development of the Microbiota and Associations With Birth Mode, Diet, and Atopic Disorders in a Longitudinal Analysis of Stool Samples, Collected From Infancy Through Early Childhood,” Gastroenterology, vol. 158, no. 6, Art. no. 6, May 2020, doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2020.01.024.

[10] M. Niewiem and U. Grzybowska-Chlebowczyk, “Intestinal Barrier Permeability in Allergic Diseases,” Nutrients, vol. 14, no. 9, p. 1893, Apr. 2022, doi: 10.3390/nu14091893.

[11] G. Galazzo et al., “Development of the Microbiota and Associations With Birth Mode, Diet, and Atopic Disorders in a Longitudinal Analysis of Stool Samples, Collected From Infancy Through Early Childhood,” Gastroenterology, vol. 158, no. 6, pp. 1584–1596, May 2020, doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2020.01.024.

[12] Y. M. Park et al., “Imbalance of Gut Streptococcus, Clostridium, and Akkermansia Determines the Natural Course of Atopic Dermatitis in Infant,” Allergy Asthma Immunol. Res., vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 322–337, Mar. 2020, doi: 10.4168/aair.2020.12.2.322.

[13] L. D. H. Ta et al., “A compromised developmental trajectory of the infant gut microbiome and metabolome in atopic eczema,” Gut Microbes, vol. 12, no. 1, Art. no. 1, Nov. 2020, doi: 10.1080/19490976.2020.1801964.