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Finding Solutions for Eczema

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Eczema Diet and Foods to Eat and Avoid

Medically Reviewed By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

If you have eczema, your doctor may refer you to a dietitian to create an eating plan. This can include anti-inflammatory foods, which may help improve your symptoms. They can also help you identify foods that may be worsening your symptoms. Eczema is an umbrella term for various inflammatory conditions that cause dry, itchy, flaky skin. Types of eczema include:

  • atopic dermatitis
  • contact dermatitis
  • discoid eczema
  • dyshidrotic eczema
  • seborrheic eczema
  • stasis eczema

Treatment typically involves a combination of medications and home remedies. Your doctor may also recommend dietary and lifestyle changes to help you manage symptoms.

This article discusses foods that may improve eczema symptoms and foods your doctor may recommend you avoid.

The word “diet” can have many meanings. This article uses the term “diet” to refer to an eating lifestyle rather than a temporary change in how you eat.

Is there a specific eczema diet?

Kale and a filet of salmon on a plate
Nadine Greeff/Stocksy United

There isn’t one specific diet for managing eczema. However, certain diets may help control inflammation and reduce the severity of flares.

Elimination diet

An elimination can help you to identify certain types of food that may be contributing to your symptoms. It involves removing specific foods or drinks from your diet one at a time. These can include foods such as cows’ milk and eggs. You then slowly add them back in one at a time and note any changes in your symptoms.

According to a 2021 review, a general elimination diet involves removing all foods except for around 12–20 that are considered hypoallergenic. These include:

  • carrots
  • potatoes
  • rice
  • chicken
  • lamb

According to the review, previous studies have shown an elimination diet can help relieve symptoms such as itchiness. However, the sample sizes of these studies were small and more research is necessary.

The elimination diet may be more beneficial if there is a food allergy. As many as 1 in 25 young children have a food allergy, according to the National Eczema Association. Up to 30% of children under the age of 5 with eczema have a food allergy.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) points out that elimination diets for children can be dangerous. They can result in:

  • weight loss
  • poor growth
  • complications due to lack of vitamins and minerals
  • malnutrition

It is important to consult a dietitian before making any significant changes to a child’s diet. They can help ensure the child is getting all their essential nutrients and monitor symptoms during the elimination period. They may also order allergy tests to determine if the child has a food allergy.

Mediterranean diet

There is anecdotal evidence that the Mediterranean diet may help improve symptoms of eczema for some people. A Mediterranean diet eating plan m Trusted Source American Heart Association Highly respected national organization Go to source a Trusted Source American Heart Association Highly respected national organization Go to source y include Trusted Source American Heart Association Highly respected national organization Go to source :

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • grains, such as bread
  • potatoes
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • eggs
  • fish
  • poultry
  • olive oil

However, a 2017 study Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source found that the Mediterranean diet had no significant benefit for children with atopic dermatitis. This suggests that the diet may only be useful for some people with eczema.

What foods should I eat with eczema?

Eating certain foods may help to reduce your eczema symptoms. A 2017 study found that symptoms in people with atopic dermatitis improved after adding the following to their diet:

  • vegetables
  • organic foods
  • fish oil

Anti-inflammatory foods

Anti-inflammatory foods can help reduce inflammation. These include:

  • leafy green vegetables, such as kale, spinach, and collards
  • tomatoes
  • nuts, such as walnuts and almonds
  • fatty fish, such as sardines, tuna, salmon, and mackerel
  • fruits, such as blueberries, cherries, oranges, and strawberries
  • olive oil

Vitamin D

Foods rich in vitamin D can help to support the immune system. These include Trusted Source National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements Governmental authority Go to source :

  • egg yolks
  • fish, such as sardines, salmon, and mackerel
  • white mushrooms
  • milk fortified with vitamin D

Many foods do not contain high amounts of vitamin D. As a result, your doctor may recommend a vitamin D supplement if your levels are too low.

Vitamin A

A diet rich in vitamin A may have benefits for your skin health. Foods rich in vitamin A include:

  • beef liver
  • broccoli
  • cantaloupe
  • carrots
  • cod liver oil
  • collards
  • kale
  • mango
  • sweet potato

What foods should I avoid with eczema?

Foods that contribute to inflammation may worsen your symptoms. As a result, you may wish to avoid them. Examples include:

  • white flour products
  • food containing gluten
  • nightshades

If you have dyshidrotic eczema, some foods containing nickel may worsen your symptoms. This is because nickel is one of the main triggers for dyshidrotic eczema.

Foods high in nickel include:

  • soy products
  • buckwheat
  • licorice
  • cocoa powder
  • cashews
  • clams
  • figs

Can foods trigger eczema?

According to the AAD, dermatologists generally do not consider food to be a trigger for eczema. However, there may be an exception if a child has severe symptoms that do not respond to topical treatments.

In this case, allergy testing can help determine if a certain food may be contributing to eczema symptoms.

Common allergies dermatologists may test for in young children with eczema include:

  • egg
  • milk
  • peanut
  • wheat
  • soy

Anaphylaxis is a severe reaction to a trigger, such as an allergy. It is potentially life threatening. Symptoms can develop quickly and include: 

  • feeling faint or lightheaded
  • difficulty breathing or wheezing
  • rapid heartbeat
  • confusion
  • anxiety
  • clammy skin
  • collapsing or losing consciousness
  • hives
  • swelling
  • stomach pain, nausea, or vomiting

If you or someone nearby develops these symptoms, you should: 

  1. Check to see whether they have an epinephrine pen. If they do, read and follow the instructions to dispense the medication.
  2. Dial 911 (or a local emergency number).
  3. Lay them down. If they have vomited, lay them on their side. 
  4. Stay with them until emergency services arrive. 

It is possible for someone to need more than one injection with an epinephrine pen. If symptoms do not begin to clear after 5 minutes, give a second injection if one is available.

Can supplements help with eczema?

IIt’s possible that low levels of certain vitamins may contribute to symptoms of eczema. For example, vitamin D can help to suppress inflammation and protect your skin’s barrier. If you have low levels of vitamin D, this may make eczema more likely to develop.

A 2016 review Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source looked at several small studies on the benefits of other supplements for atopic dermatitis. These included prebiotics, fish oil supplements, evening primrose oil, and borage seed oil. However, it found no conclusive evidence to support the use of these supplements for eczema. As a result, more research is necessary.

It is important to consult with your doctor before taking any new supplements. They can determine whether they may be a good choice for you and advise on how to safely take them.

When should I contact a doctor?

You may wish to contact your doctor if you experience symptoms of eczema, such as dry, itchy, irritated skin. They will be able to confirm the diagnosis and recommend effective treatment. This may include diet modifications if they suspect your symptoms are due to a food trigger.

Allergy tests can confirm a food allergy. These may be necessary for children with atopic dermatitis symptoms that do not respond to topical treatments.

Frequently asked questions

Jillian Kubala, M.S., R.D., reviewed the answers to these frequently asked questions about diet and eczema.

What foods help clear up eczema?

There is no single food that can help to clear up eczema. However, consuming a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods and low in foods that contribute to inflammation may help.

What food deficiency causes eczema?

Experts generally do not believe that certain foods can cause or trigger eczema. However, a diet low in certain vitamins, such as vitamin A or vitamin D, may weaken your skin’s protective barrier. This may increase your likelihood of developing eczema symptoms. 

Is eczema linked to gut health?

Research suggests Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source that there may be a link between eczema and gut health. Dysbiosis is an imbalance of microorganisms in the gut, or digestive tract. It may contribute to inflammatory conditions, such as atopic dermatitis and seborrheic dermatitis.

Summary

There is no specific diet to relieve symptoms of eczema. However, your dietitian can help you create an eating plan to manage your symptoms. This may include consuming a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods and avoiding foods that contribute to inflammation.

Supplements may also be beneficial for some people with eczema. It is important to talk with your doctor before taking any supplements.

Contact your doctor as soon as you have concerns about eczema. They can discuss your diet with you and help you create an eating plan to address your symptoms.

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Medical Reviewer: Jillian Kubala, MS, RD
Last Review Date: 2023 Apr 14
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.