Hansen reported originally that the degree of unsaturation of fatty acids in the blood serum, as measured by the level of iodine absorption, was lower in infants with eczema than in normal controls.1 This work was followed by studies on the iodine absorption of the serum of rats on fat-free diets, and it was observed that the serum of normal rats was much more unsaturated (i. e., absorbed much more iodine) than that of the animals on the restricted diet.2 Later changes in the lipid content of the serum and the therapeutic effects of various oils were observed in patients with infantile eczema. Hansen concluded from this work that as the iodine number of the serum rose a parallel improvement of the cutaneous condition resulted, regardless of whether the greater unsaturation of the lipids was effected by feeding oil or by applying coal tar locally.3
EPSTEIN NN, GLICK D. UNSATURATED FATTY ACIDS IN ECZEMA: OBSERVATIONS ON ACNE VULGARIS, PSORIASIS, XANTHOMA TUBEROSUM AND XANTHOMA PALPEBRARUM. Arch Derm Syphilol. 1937;35(3):427–432. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/archderm.1937.01470210053005
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