Foods, Nutrition and Eczema - Is There a Link?
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a chronic, recurring skin inflammation that appears as blisters that dry to become a scaly, itchy rash. People with eczema often have a personal or family history of allergic conditions such as asthma or hay fever. Exposure to certain irritants and allergens in the environment can worsen symptoms, as can dryness of the skin, exposure to water, temperature changes, stress and some foods. For detailed information about eczema, click on Eczema Guide .CA.
It's not clear how important food sensitivities and allergies are in eczema. The effects of foods on the skin are complicated and difficult to assess. Foods that have been associated with making eczema symptoms worse include
- cow's milk
- fruit with seeds
- food coloring
Also, food additives such as sulfites and MSG may aggravate eczema. However, it is different for every individual, so if you suspect that some foods may be making your eczema worse, you should discuss this with your health care provider who can help you make dietary changes and determine if restricting them in your diet might reduce the incidence and severity of your eczema. Paying attention to what you eat and the effect it has on your skin may help you avoid foods that can provoke eczema flares.
The most reliable way to determine whether you have a sensitivity or an allergy to a particular food is to eliminate the suspected food from your diet for 6 weeks and then reintroduce it back into your diet. If you are sensitive or allergic to it, then your skin rash should clear while avoiding the problem food, and eating the food should again cause the skin rash to return. Always test one food at a time.
How will you know if a food is making your eczema worse? Food sensitivities can occur immediately in some cases and they can be delayed in other cases.
- Symptoms of immediate food sensitivity may worsen shortly after eating the trigger food and can include:
- swelling and irritation around the mouth
- urticaria (itchy, fluid filled lumps on the skin).
- Other symptoms may occur such as abdominal pain, vomiting, wheezing, itchy eyes and sneezing.
- Symptoms of delayed food sensitivity will develop 6-24 hours after eating the trigger food and include worsening of itching and eczema. Sometimes abdominal pain and diarrhea will also occur.
Keep in mind, though, that even if a food sensitivity is proved, excluding the food is unlikely to "cure" the eczema, though symptoms may become less severe. You will still likely need the usual treatments. See your family doctor or dermatologist to find out what the best treatment is for you.
For more information about eczema, go to Eczema Guide .CA