If you are wondering about how what you eat affects your body, in terms of eczema flare-ups, you’re not alone. Approximately 31.6 million individuals in the United States, about 10.1% of the population suffer from eczema, according to the latest figures from the National Eczema Association.
The NEA noted that one in 10 people are predicted to develop this condition at some point, with most cases occurring during childhood. But eczema can strike at any age.
Patients with eczema, which is also referred to as atopic dermatitis, can experience discomfort or pain when their skin breaks out with rashes and blisters.
So, it’s a good idea to learn about foods that cause eczema so you can keep them off your plate, or out of the meals you prepare for a loved one who has this condition.
Foods to Avoid With Eczema
Every person has a unique, individual body chemistry, so foods to avoid with eczema in one person may not cause eczema in another person.
People find out by trial and error which are the foods that trigger eczema for them. One approach is to keep a food diary, where you list different food choices to see if you can correlate what you eat with flare-ups.
However, there are some typical food allergies that can lead to eczema that you can try avoiding, according to Healthline:
- Milk (cow)
- Fish/shellfish (Except for fatty fish; see the list below of foods that help eczema go away)
- Nuts (Not just whole nuts. During food processing in factories, trace amounts of nuts from one production run, such as nut-filled candy bars, can get into non-nut food products.)
Remember that some ingredients are harder to spot than others. You’ll need to inspect the ingredients list on the labels of processed foods to avoid such triggers.
According to Healthgrades, gluten is one such ingredient, along with wheat that may lead to eczema symptoms. Another culprit could be soy, since people with soy allergies sometimes also have eczema.
Even citrus fruits may trigger a reaction, as they include an ingredient called Balsam of Peru (Myroxylon pereirae is the scientific name) which is an allergen in some people suffering from eczema. Similarly, tomatoes are sometimes implicated in eczema outbreaks.
How the food is packaged can make a difference too, per Healthgrades. It noted that the form of eczema known as dyshidrotic eczema may cause some individuals to be sensitive to the element nickel. Foods high in nickel, such as rye, cocoa, chocolate and legumes may cause people to experience more eczema symptoms.
Nickel might also make its way into food when manufacturers use nickel in the cans of canned foods. It’s another consideration when shopping in the supermarket.
Foods That Help Eczema Go Away
It’s one thing to know which food may lead to eczema outbreaks. It’s another matter to know what foods that help eczema go away. Avoiding inflammation is crucial.
Research from professionals studying nutrition and eczema helps steer us toward foods that decrease inflammation.
One food source that’s high in omega-3 fatty acids is fatty fish. Popular fish in this category are herring, mackerel, salmon and trout. If you’re not fond of eating fish, you can instead take supplements, with Healthline recommending patients take at least 250 mg of omega-3.
Another good category is foods that contain high levels of quercetin, which is a flavonoid providing antioxidants and antihistamine, which patients with eczema benefit from because of the strong anti-inflammatory effects. You’ll find high amounts of quercetin in fruits and vegetables such as:
An option for eczema relief that many find suitable is to consume foods with probiotics, per Healthline. You may have already eaten probiotics, as their live cultures are found in yogurt. Probiotics are shown to boost the immune system, which is essential for keeping eczema at bay.
Foods high in probiotics aside from yogurt range from:
- Pickles (fermented naturally)
- Sauerkraut (unpasteurized)
- Miso soup
- Sourdough bread
As you can see, there are many savory foods in this category, giving you a variety of tasty options to help eczema flare-ups from occurring.
Making a Plan to Avoid Eczema Food Triggers
When preparing your own meals, you’ll have an easier time avoiding eczema food triggers since you can control the ingredients. But when eating in restaurants or at the homes of friends or family, you’ll just want to keep the same list of items in mind. That makes it easier to choose foods you know are better for managing your condition.
Having a plan ahead of time will make for a more relaxing meal. You’ll know what food options to aim for and what to avoid, and your dining partners may not even be aware that you’re eating a special diet to stay healthier.