What Foods Cause Eczema Flare-Ups
Eczema flare-ups can be triggered or worsened by certain foods. Learn about what you can do to prevent or reduce symptoms

Eczema, also called atopic dermatitis, is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that causes red, itchy lesions. While there is no specific diet plan that prevents eczema flare-ups, eliminating certain foods may help, especially if you have food allergies. Foods that are known for causing inflammation and triggering eczema flare-ups include:

  • Soy products
  • Nuts
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Eggs
  • Foods made from refined flour
    • White bread
    • Regular white pasta
    • Cookies
    • Cakes
    • Breakfast cereals
    • Crackers
    • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Foods high in trans fat and saturated fat
    • Frozen pizza
    • Refrigerated dough
    • French fries
    • Doughnuts
    • Fried chicken
    • Mozzarella sticks
    • Fish sticks
    • Non-dairy coffee creamer
    • Stick margarine
  • Dairy products (especially cow’s milk)
    • Milk
    • Cheese
  • Red meat
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplants
  • Potatoes

Can an elimination diet help prevent eczema flare-ups?

Researchers have not been able to figure out a specific diet for eczema, since foods that may trigger a flare-up in one person may not do so in another person. It can also be very difficult to pinpoint which foods could be triggering your eczema symptoms.

However, you can try an elimination diet to identify which foods seem to worsen symptoms. An elimination diet involves cutting out certain foods from your diet for several days, then slowly reintroducing them to see if you notice any difference in your flare-ups.

If your child suffers from eczema, it can be even more difficult to determine what is causing flare-ups. It is important to talk to your pediatrician or a skin specialist who specializes in treating skin diseases in children. Trying to put your child on an elimination diet without consulting a doctor could raise the risk of nutritional deficiencies.

How can you avoid eczema flare-ups?

Aside from your diet, you can also take preventive measures to avoid eczema flare-ups:

  • Wear cotton-lined gloves when using cleaning products.
  • Avoid using air fresheners, perfume, essential oils, or scented candles.
  • Stay away from all kinds of smoke, particularly tobacco smoke.
  • Avoid bathing in hot water, which can be too harsh and drying for your skin.
  • After a shower, gently pat your skin dry and avoid rubbing.
  • Apply a moisturizing lotion all over your body to lock in moisture after a shower.
  • Avoid direct sunlight exposure.
  • Wear sunscreen when outdoors.
  • Wear loose, breathable cotton clothes and stay away fabrics such as wool, mohair, polyester, nylon, and rayon.
  • Wash clothes before you wear them to get rid of dyes or chemicals.
  • If you dry-clean your clothes, air them out for 24 hours, as the chemicals used can trigger skin rashes.
  • Use gentle detergents and soaps and read the labels to check if the ingredients are skin-friendly, fragrance-free, and good for sensitive skin.
  • Reduce stress with relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, deep breathing, or biofeedback. Anxiety and stress can make eczema worse by inducing inflammation.
  • If you are allergic to dust, pollen, pet dander, or dust mites, vacuum your house regularly.
  • During and after a workout, stay hydrated and try to avoid overheating.

QUESTION

Eczema (also atopic eczema or atopic dermatitis) is a general medical term for many types of skin inflammation. See Answer

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Medically Reviewed on 4/20/2022
References
Image Source: iStock Images

Katta R, Schlichte M. Diet and dermatitis: food triggers. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2014;7(3):30-36. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3970830/

American Academy of Dermatology. Do certain foods cause eczema flares? https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/eczema/childhood/treating/foods-trigger