That itchy, red, flakey, swollen skin. Anyone who has suffered excema, or especially watched a child with the disease get teased at school, will know the trauma that this skin condition brings. News this week from Universities in New Zealand that a dollop of our good old fashioned kiwi butter might help.

Sufferers of eczema are often encouraged to avoid dairy foods, but now researchers are to feed children enriched butter in a bid to alleviate the condition.

Researchers from Auckland and Otago universities will look at whether the spread, enriched with linoleic acid and eaten in small amounts as part of a normal diet, could help ease eczema, which causes itchy, flaky skin.

The acid substance is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties. More than 100 children will be given butter in a search for better protection to combat the onset of eczema.

The researchers are looking to recruit 50 children aged between two and 16 in the Wellington region the rest will come from Auckland. Half will be given a single slice of bread per day for six weeks with the specially enriched butter, and half will be given normal butter.

One of the lead researchers, Peter Black, said eczema affected up to 20 per cent of children in New Zealand.

“We know it must be something to do with our lifestyle, and another possibility is that changes in the diet are involved. “In the last few decades there has been an increase in the consumption of margarine and decrease in the use of butter.”

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