Unlike hives, where the main cause of a breakout is linked to food, eczema has many triggers ranging from genetics, environmental factors, stress, damaged skin barrier, to food allergies.
Genetics plays a major role in determining who will have eczema, however instead of being caused by one single gene it is instead caused by many genes acting together. Although food allergies are common in children who have eczema, they are completely separate conditions. There are key differences between the symptoms of a food allergy and eczema: an allergic reaction to food will happen quickly, and then usually go away in a few hours if the food is not eaten again, however many of the eczema cases are chronic and persistent.
There are steps parents can take to avoid potential food allergies in their children. First, avoid unnecessary delays when introducing new foods to your baby. It is recommended to start introducing solid foods to babies around 6 months of age. If your baby tolerates a new food, keep it in their diet regularly, or about once a week, to remind the immune system to tolerate the food rather than developing an allergy to it. Delaying the introduction of a new food to a baby can actually increase the chance of them developing an allergy to it. This is because it increases the chances that the new substance is exposed to the system through a scratch or open wound, rather than being properly introduced through the digestive system.
Foods such as milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, fish, and soy are common food allergies and eczema triggers for young children. While these foods can make eczema worse, they do not necessarily cause the condition. Be extremely careful with what foods you decide to keep out of your baby’s diet, and always consult your doctor before making any major changes to their diet. Elimination diets and exposure challenges can be valuable methods to determine what foods your child is sensitive to, but always check with a doctor to make sure that such an approach is safe and the best option for your baby.