What should you not eat when you have eczema?

Eczema and your diet

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While no cure for eczema exists, over-the-counter creams and medications can help reduce inflammation. Sometimes, a doctor can recommend avoiding certain foods known to worsen eczema. Some of these foods may trigger the release of T cells that trigger inflammation, and immunoglobulin-E or IgE, which is an antibody produced in response to a threat. Such foods include nuts, milk, and wheat.

What does your diet have to do with eczema?

Eczema elimination diet and what to consume

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Eczema is a term that refers to skin conditions that causes one to develop dry, itchy patches of skin on their body. Eczema often comes as a result of inflammation in the skin, so eating foods that do not cause or reduce inflammation may help lessen the symptoms.

Food sensitivities

Some studies show that these can worsen eczema worse, especially in babies and children. Peanuts, milk, soy, wheat, fish, and eggs are the most common allergens. Because kids require a well-rounded diet, don’t stop giving them foods you think might cause eczema flares. Talk to a pediatrician or dermatologist first. They can do tests for problematic foods.

Foods to consume

For those with eczema, consuming certain foods can cause the body to release immune system compounds that produce inflammation, which therefore contributes to an eczema flare-up. An anti-eczema diet is the same as an anti-inflammatory diet.Examples of anti-inflammatory meals include:Fish, a source of omega-3 fatty acids that can combine inflammation in the body. Examples of kinds of fish high in omega-3s include salmon, sardines, albacore tuna, mackerel, and herring.High probiotic foods, these foods contain bacteria that promote good gut health. Examples include natural organic yogurt with live and active cultures, tempeh, kimchi, and miso soup. Other fermented foods include kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut.Foods high in inflammation-fighting flavonoids. Examples include colorful fruits and vegetables, like apples, spinach, broccoli, cherries, and kale. Consuming more of these foods and reducing any trigger foods could help to decrease eczema flare-ups.

Elimination diet and foods to dodge

Food-sensitive eczema reactions will occur about 6 to 24 hours after a person consumes a particular food. Sometimes, these reactions can be delayed even longer. To determine what foods can be causing the reaction, a doctor will recommend an elimination diet. It involves avoiding some of the common foods known to trigger eczema. Before excluding any foods, a person requires to slowly add each food type into their diet and watch their eczema for 4 to 6 weeks to know if they are sensitive to any particular food.

Foods to eliminate from your diet

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A person’s symptoms can worsen after including certain foods to the diet; they may want to avoid it in the future. If a person’s eczema symptoms do not change after eliminating food, they probably don’t need to eliminate it from their diet. Common foods that can trigger a flare-up and could be eliminated from a diet include:

Citrus fruits

Oranges and orange products like juices have similar properties to grapes as they are strongly acidic, and a rich source of two itch-causing chemicals: salicylates and amines. 36% of all eczema sufferers experience a worsening of their symptoms when they ingest amine-rich foods such as oranges.


For those with eczema or asthma, it is advised that they avoid grapes and grape-products like wine, sultanas, raisins and grape juice. This is because grapes are a “triple threat” being very rich in three itch-promoting chemicals namely amines, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and salicylates which are identified to worsen eczema. Salicylates are a natural pesticide produced by many fruits and vegetables, and it’s also present in aspirin, perfumes, herbal medicines, and teething gel products. Instead of eating grapes, try peeled pears as they are low in salicylates.


Dairy products, like cow’s milk, yogurt, butter, and cheese, are the second most common allergens seen in eczema sufferers.  These products also cause damage to the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. When the lining of the gut is damaged from eating dairy products, tiny holes let larger food particles to infiltrate the body, and allergic reactions and sensitivities can result from that. These undigested food particles and proteins are seen as “foreign invaders” by the body’s immune system, which naturally wants to attack foreign particles. Naturopaths often refer to this condition as ‘leaky gut’ and the medical term is ‘increased intestinal permeability.’ 


Sugar is a pro-inflammatory substance in the body, which is a contributing factor in eczema flare-ups. Eczema has resulted in cases where bad gut bacteria and fungus, like candida, are present in the gut. Candida albicans is an opportunistic fungus in the form of yeast that feeds on sugar. In small amounts, candida nothing to worry about but when it is overproduced, we start seeing the adverse effects on our skin and along the intestinal lining which can lead to an even greater cause to eczema known as leaky gut. Research shows that 70% of those with atopic eczema have an overgrowth of Candida albicans in the gastrointestinal tract.  It is to avoid all obvious sources of refined sugar and carbohydrates, keep natural sweeteners to a minimum and bypass the things that contribute to candida overgrowths like antibiotics and chronic inflammation by avoiding pro-inflammatory foods. 


Gluten has also been known to compromise the intestinal barrier, resulting in leaky gut – a major cause of eczema. The issue with this is that once the intestinal lining becomes overly permeable, undigested food particles and proteins can ooze into the bloodstream.  From there onwards, every time you eat gluten, the immune system attacks it and induces a pro-inflammatory response. To limit inflammation in the gut, it’s best to avoid gluten by going for gluten-free grains like quinoa, millet, buckwheat, and amaranth. It may not mean you wholly avoid gluten forever, but taking a break from it will certainly help you determine if it’s a problematic food. Remember gluten has also been known to show up in body care products like shampoos and body washes, so it’s critical to be on the lookout. 

Soy sauce/tamari sauce

While there are better forms of soy such as fermented organic soy (tamari, miso paste or tempeh), soy is considered an allergen and may be a cause of eczema. Soy sauce is loaded with amines and MSG (both natural or artificial), so they can cause eczema flare-ups and other kinds of skin inflammation. 35% of all eczema sufferers undergo a worsening of their symptoms when they consume glutamates like MSG.In a Japanese study, researchers found that withdrawing soy-containing foods for about three months significantly reduced their symptoms. Soy is a very common food additive and hiding in many different foods. Aside from the more well-known types of soy like tofu, soy milk, soy yogurt, soy ice cream, soy cheese and soy flour, you will also want to be on the lookout for it in the ingredient list when it comes to foods like cereal, processed meats, baked goods, infant formula, Worcestershire sauce and soy protein often used as a meat substitute.


More than 70% of all eczema sufferers are allergic to eggs. If consumed frequently, raw eggs can produce a biotin deficiency that can trigger eczema; this condition is called ‘egg white injury.’ It’s important to note that not everyone’s eczema caused by raw eggs.spices like vanilla, cloves, and cinnamon


Tomato and products containing tomato like tomato ketchup, are another triple threat as they are loaded with salicylates, amines, and natural MSG. The three worst chemicals responsible for triggering eczema.


While avocados are a healthy addition to any diet when you don’t suffer from eczema, it is one of the amplest sources of amines and salicylates. 

What can a doctor do

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A doctor may also recommend undergoing allergy testing. Even if one is not allergic to certain foods, they may be sensitive to it and could experience symptoms after repeated exposure; this is referred to as food responsive eczema. Persons with dyshidrotic eczema, which affects the hands and feet, may benefit from eating foods that don’t contain. Nickel is present in trace amounts in the soil and therefore can, be found in foods.Foods containing high nickel content include beans, chocolate, peas, black tea, canned meats, lentils, nuts, seeds, shellfish, soybeans, etc.Some eczema sufferers also have oral allergy syndrome or sensitivity to birch pollen. This means they can have reactions to foods like green apples, celery, pears, carrot, hazelnuts.People with eczema are more susceptible to oral allergy syndrome and should speak to their doctor if they get a pollen allergy or experience mild allergic reactions to the above name foods. While a person’s diet may not always trigger eczema, some people may find that their symptoms get better when they make dietary changes. Making these modifications and monitoring the results can help one determine whether altering their diet can help them manage their condition better.If one eliminates a large food group, like wheat-containing products, they need to talk to their doctor about taking supplements to guarantee they are not missing out on any essential vitamins and minerals.

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