People who regularly suffer from itchy rashes and skin disorders like eczema often wonder what its cause may be and if there is anything they can do to prevent outbreaks. The first step in this type of initial self diagnosis and treatment may lie in learning how dietary habits can affect skin disorders.
Foods that May Trigger Eczema
Among the many things that can cause eczema to make an unwelcome appearance, foods may be the most overlooked. Instead of only focusing on the external elements that increase eczema's severity, it's time to also take a good hard look at what you ingest on a regular basis. After you identify a set of triggers, take your information with you to a doctor for confirmation and eczema treatment advice.
Most Common Food Triggers
Like other areas of health care, foods that cause eczema vary from individual to individual. Trial and error combined with careful attention to symptoms remains the best way to discover which foods may be causing recurring bouts of eczema. According to doctors and scientists with the Westmead Children's Hospital, the following foods most commonly trigger moderate to severe eczema outbreaks, particularly if the patient has food allergies.
- Dairy (especially cow's milk)
- Egg (all egg parts can cause outbreaks, but the whites may worsen eczema symptoms)
- Wheat (usually all-gluten grains)
Other Foods that May Cause Eczema
- Soy products
- Fruits such as citrus and berries
- Many nuts (besides just peanuts)
- Fish and fish oils
- Corn, tomatoes and many other vegetables
- Preservatives and food additives
- Refined foods
- Foods with a high content of saturated fats such as fatty meats and poultry
For Expectant Mothers
Most (but not all) infants and children who experience eczema have one or more parent with some type of atopic condition. This can include asthma, hay fever, allergies or eczema. The University of Maryland's Medical Center states that research geared toward ascertaining whether pregnant mothers can pass on or prevent eczema by adjusting their diet has never rendered definitive results. For this reason, it's important for expectant mothers to continue to consume nutrient-rich foods to ensure the proper development and growth of the fetus. Consult with your doctor before making any changes to an otherwise healthy diet.
The one thing that researchers agree upon regarding diet and eczema is that food intake can make a difference in symptom severity. However, a number of double-blind scientific studies like the abstracts linked below yielded widely diverse results with a large array of efficacy indications. The National Eczema Society reports that no test or study exists that 100 percent clarifies which foods cause eczema.
- Clinical response to food elimination in children with atopic eczema: 74 percent of eczematous children tested showed improvement after the elimination of foods like cow's milk and eggs.
- Maternal diet during lactation in high-risk infants: Indicates eczema was less common in babies whose mothers restricted their diets under a doctor's supervision.
- Exclusion of eggs and milk: Ten out of forty respondents experienced favorable results from dietary modifications.
- Relevance of food additives in patients with atopic eczema: Only a small group of participants responded favorably to a diet of restricted food additives.
Things to Avoid
If you suffer from eczema and would like to minimize your symptoms, first consult with your physician to create an active treatment plan. It's also a good idea to avoid the food items listed below, as they may contain triggers unbeknownst to you.
- Boxed cake mixes which contain dairy elements, preservatives and wheat
- Boxed and frozen entrees which could contain preservatives, additives, nuts, soy products, wheat, dairy or saturated fats
- Packaged candy, pastries and crackers which contain nuts, preservatives, food additives, peanut butter, wheat, refined oils or dairy
- Packaged teas with undisclosed ingredients
- Packaged fruit snacks
To minimize your symptoms even more, become an avid package reader while shopping. Many refined and prepackaged food items contain a surprising amount of ingredients that may exacerbate the symptoms of all types of eczema.