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Finding Solutions for Eczema

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Can Certain Foods Trigger Eczema Symptoms?

Medically Reviewed By Amy Richter, RD

Eczema often occurs alongside food sensitivities and allergies, and certain foods may therefore trigger eczema flare-ups. Examples include eggs, peanuts, and wheat. Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that can be influenced by an atypical immune system response to certain triggers. When these triggers are foods, consuming those foods may contribute to eczema symptoms.

It’s worth tracking how your diet affects your eczema symptoms. However, talk with your doctor before eliminating any foods from your diet. They can help you determine how to cut out different food products from your diet safely.

Read on to learn more about nine foods that people with eczema may need to avoid.

Peanuts

An assortment of peanut shells
Lindsey Rivera/Stocksy United

Peanut allergies commonly occur Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source alongside eczema. If you have a child who seems to have developed eczema symptoms after eating peanuts or foods containing peanuts, you may want to talk with your child’s doctor about allergy testing.

Learn more about the difference between food intolerances and allergies.

Cow’s milk

Cow’s milk is one of the most common foods that trigger allergies, particularly in children Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source . If an individual is allergic to cow’s milk, it may worsen eczema symptoms.

However, parents shouldn’t eliminate milk or milk-based products from their children’s diets without first talking with their child’s doctor. When dairy products are completely removed from a diet, they may develop Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source nutrient deficiencies and other related health issues.

This kind of elimination diet may be reserved only for children with severe eczema, and your child’s doctor will help you determine how to supplement their diet best to replace the nutrients in milk and milk products.

Learn more about 8 potentially dangerous food allergies.

Eggs

Eggs are another common trigger Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source of eczema exacerbation in babies and young children with egg allergies. It may be evident that you might need to avoid scrambled or fried eggs, but also be aware that foods like bread or other baked goods may also contain eggs.

Keep in mind that this might need to be only a short-term avoidance strategy for your child. Some children may outgrow Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source their food allergies.

Soy

Allergies to soy are also common Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source in people with eczema, and many people believe foods containing soy make their eczema symptoms worse. If you want to avoid soy, start reading food labels carefully. Soy can appear in several unexpected food products, like tea and chocolate.

Wheat

Some people believe that gluten or wheat can contribute to an eczema flare-up. Gluten is present in many foods, including ones you may not suspect, like soups or sauces.

A large 2019 study found that many people with eczema also have celiac disease, a condition in which the immune system reacts to gluten consumption. Though celiac disease is most commonly associated with gastrointestinal symptoms, it may also cause Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source skin disturbances in some people.

If you suspect your eczema symptoms may be linked to wheat or gluten, ask your doctor about getting screened for celiac disease before eliminating gluten.

Fish

Fish is also on the list of foods that commonly cause Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source allergic reactions. However, some fish are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which may reduce Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source inflammation in conditions like eczema.

If you need to remove fish from your diet, you may want to talk with your doctor about supplementing omega-3s from other sources.

Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits are rich in essential nutrients like vitamin C. But they also contain an allergen called Myroxylon pereirae (Balsam of Peru). This may be problematic for some people with eczema, according to research from 2014 Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source .

Balsam of Peru is typically used in fragrances, and people who are allergic to it may want to avoid citrus fruits if avoiding fragrances isn’t enough to manage their symptoms.

Tomatoes

Like citrus fruits, tomatoes contain Balsam of Peru and may aggravate eczema in some people. Though they may not always trigger Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source an allergic response, they can cause some people to experience eczema flare-ups.

Canned foods

Nickel can be found in many foods, including wheat, legumes, and soy products. However, because many manufacturers use nickel to produce cans for food preservation, older research notes that nickel may also appear Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source  in canned foods.

Some people with eczema may be sensitive to nickel. If that’s the case, eating foods containing nickel may exacerbate your symptoms, and the American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends avoiding those foods.

Are exclusion diets helpful for eczema?

It may not be beneficial for some people to follow an exclusion diet to manage eczema symptoms.

Cutting out certain foods or food groups may lead Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source to nutrient deficiencies. This may harm the body and disrupt Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source  the skin’s protective barrier. This, in turn, may worsen eczema symptoms.

2017 research review Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source  noted that there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that strict dietary modifications, including exclusion diets, effectively manage eczema for most people. More studies are needed to identify beneficial nutritional approaches for the condition.

Any dietary changes should be done under the supervision of a doctor, licensed medical professional, or registered dietitian.

Learn more about eczema eating plans.

Summary

People with allergies or sensitivities to certain foods may need to avoid them to avoid triggering eczema symptoms. However, you should always talk with your doctor before making significant changes to your diet.

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Medical Reviewer: Amy Richter, RD
Last Review Date: 2023 Sep 4
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