Evening primrose and borage oils, usually taken in capsule form, are often promoted for skin conditions, notably eczema. Both oils are rich in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which has many effects in the body, such as controlling inflammation.
The Natural Standard, which reviews complemenetary/alternative therapies, has concluded there is fair evidence for the use of these oils (notably borage) in treating eczema and dermatitis.
However, a well-designed study published in BMJ in 2003 found that borage oil provided no significant benefit against eczema or certain kinds of dermatitis. A 2010 review published in the journal Nutrition found that five studies reported that borage oil was effective against atopic dermatitis, but another five did not. It can no longer be prescribed in the United Kingdom for that purpose.
Originally published August 2013. Updated March 2014.