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The Connection Between Eczema & Food Allergies

a group of common foods that people are allergic too, as well as a label with the words "food allergy".

If you struggle with eczema, you’ve likely heard about the importance of identifying what your unique triggers are to avoid flare-ups. One effective strategy is to keep a journal to note when you get a flare-up and track activities, products, and food consumed before it occurred. Additionally, we’ve compiled a list of common eczema triggers that can help you get started. You can find this list in our blog post, “Soothing Solutions: A Guide to Eczema Relief”. 

We want to bring awareness to the possibility that your eczema flare-ups may be triggered by a food allergy; common triggers include

  • Eggs

  • Peanuts

  • Cow’s milk

  • Baby formula for infants. For babies with eczema, hypoallergenic formulas (cow's milk free) can be a great alternative. There are also options for soy free formulas if your child is allergic to soy. Contact us if you need additional information on baby formula. Our talented technical team will be glad to help you!

There is also the possibility that it can be the other way around - eczema can cause the development of a food allergy! Statistics show that food allergies are actually more common in infants with eczema and a family history of a food allergy. Around 30% of babies in these groups end up developing a food allergy compared to only 10% of the general population. 

boy about to scratch eczema on his lips and face.

The theory is, there are a lot of immune cells inside the skin, and inflamed, flaky skin characteristic of eczema can allow small food particles through the skin. These particles encounter immune cells, which react to the food as an intruder, triggering an immune response. This can result in the onset of a food allergy, especially when eczema is poorly controlled or if children are restricted from eating certain foods when they are younger. 

There are two types of reactions to foods that are observed in children with eczema, which can make it hard to pinpoint the cause.

The first are immediate reactions, usually developing immediately or within a short time after eating a certain food (usually 30-60 min). This is due to a certain antibody the immune system produces, called IgE. Symptoms include hives, itching, diarrhea, vomiting, and others. If your child is experiencing these types of reactions, they need to be referred to a specialist allergy clinic for testing. Common food triggers for this response are milk, eggs, nuts/seeds, shellfish, fish, and wheat. 

The second are delayed reactions, causing eczema to get worse after 24-48 hours from eating the food. Unlike the immediate reaction, this response is not due to antibody production, so blood tests or skin pricks are not helpful. Excluding a certain food from your or your child’s diet may not be helpful, unless your doctor recommends (Any allergy tests should be interpreted by and discussed with a specialist!). The best way to avoid eczema flares is to focus on treating eczema itself. Learn more about treatment strategies from our blog posts, “Struggle with Eczema? This is What Your Skin Microbiome May Look Like” and “An Effective 3 Step Skincare Routine for Baby Eczema”.


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