Eczema is an umbrella term to describe a group of medical conditions that causes red, inflamed and itchy skin. The most common type is known as atopic dermatitis or atopic eczema and is caused by a malfunction in the immune system and problems with the skin barrier. When you have atopic dermatitis you have a higher risk of food sensitivity and may develop asthma and hay fever.
You’re more likely to develop atopic dermatitis if one of your parents has had it.
These can range from mild to severe. Children with eczema usually develop itchy, dry, red skin and small bumps on their cheeks, forehead, or scalp which may spread to the arms, legs and the torso. Red, crusted, or open lesions may appear on any affected areas.
Topical corticosteroids, steroid creams or ointments, are commonly used to treat eczema and are usually applied directly to the affected areas twice a day. However, paying attention to your diet and talking to your doctor if you suspect you’re allergic to certain foods can help with the recommendation of foods you should avoid.
The role of food for eczema
While there’s no cure for eczema, eczema flares are sometimes triggered by an allergic reaction to specific foods. These foods can help ease flare ups and itchy skin.
Ease the itch
Chicken broth provides skin-repairing amino acid glycine.
Salmon, mackerel and sardines can help lower blood pressure. They’re a good source of Vitamin D, protein and some B vitamins, and are good for the skin.
High in potassium, they also contain histamine-lowering nutrients, magnesium and vitamin C.
Foods high in flavonoids
Flavonoids help fight inflammation. Add fruits in your diet like apples and cherries and vegetables like spinach and kale.
Load up on probiotics
Foods high in probiotics are known to promote a healthy gut. Yoghurt with live and active cultures, kefir, tempeh, kombucha and sauerkraut are your best bets.
Avoid these trigger foods if you’re prone to eczema:
- Soy sauce
- Avocados: Gasp! Sorry, but they’re one of the leading sources of amines and salicylates that may trigger a flare up.
- Dried fruits
- Deli meats
- Eggs: 70-90% of people with eczema are allergic or sensitive to them.
- Dairy products: Over 80% of eczema sufferers are allergic to dairy products.
Elimination diet and foods to avoid
Food-sensitive eczema reactions typically develop about six to 24 hours after you’ve eaten a particular food. Sometimes, these reactions may be delayed even longer.
To determine what foods trigger a reaction, your doctor may recommend an elimination diet, which involves avoiding some of the most common foods known to cause eczema.
Before eliminating any foods, you will need to slowly add each food type into your diet and monitor your eczema for 4 to 6 weeks to determine if you’re sensitive to any food. If your symptoms get worse after adding a certain food, you will have to avoid it in the future.
Your dermatologist can also help you develop a strategy that’s best for you.