What foods to avoid with eczema

Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is an inflammatory skin condition most common in young children but also affecting adolescents and adults. What causes eczema in certain individuals is not fully understood, but it is thought to have a genetic link as well as being due to external environmental factors. Symptoms of eczema generally include itchy skin, irritation, itchy rashes, and blisters.

People who suffer from eczema also tend to suffer from food allergies, and your dermatologist may recommend avoiding certain foods. Not everyone will have the same allergies to the same food types so finding out which foods you may have an allergy to is important to reduce your flare-ups of eczema.

In this article, we will take a look at what foods you should avoid and what foods are good to eat if you have eczema, as well as some dietary tips to help you manage your symptoms of eczema.

What foods should you not eat during eczema?

The food you eat may not cause eczema but may make your symptoms of eczema worse, especially if you eat food that you have an allergy to. Foods you should avoid if you have eczema include:

  • Dairy products (such as cow’s milk)
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Foods high in trans fats (such as processed food, and fast food)
  • Foods high in sugar (such as cakes, sweets, and sodas) can cause sudden increases in your insulin and cause inflammation

Foods to avoid with eczema in toddlers

The most common foods to be avoided in children with eczema are eggs, milk, and peanuts. These foods also commonly cause allergies in children. Allergies can also occur in other foods such as fish, shellfish, soya, strawberries, and other fruits.

Foods to avoid with eczema in adults

Flavonoid-containing foods are classed as anti-inflammatory foods and are actually recommended in diets with anti-inflammatory properties. However, not all foods will be suitable for everyone and certain flavonoid-containing foods may actually make the symptoms of eczema worse in adults. These include tomatoes, red peppers, berries, and citrus fruits.

Foods to avoid with eczema and psoriasis

Foods often mentioned when talking about psoriasis flare-ups include alcohol, processed food, dairy products, red meat, gluten, and citrus foods. While some of these foods are common to causing eczema flare-ups, some of these foods are actually recommended to prevent eczema flare-ups.

What foods trigger eczema flare-ups?

Peanuts, milk, wheat, fish, and eggs most commonly trigger eczema flare-ups.

What is good to eat for eczema?

You may consider foods with anti-inflammatory properties, such as olive oil, vegetables, and foods containing vitamin E and vitamin D. Probiotics are another addition you could make to your diet. This type of diet has not been proven to be helpful as yet.

Anti-inflammatory foods may help reduce your eczema symptoms. These may include:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Fatty fish (such as salmon or herring)
  • Fish oil containing omega-3 fatty acids, or an omega-3 supplement
  • Foods containing quercetin, a plant-based flavonoid (a powerful antioxidant and antihistamine) – apples, blueberries, broccoli, kale, spinach
  • Foods containing probiotics (such as yogurt, miso soup, soft cheeses, kefir, and tempeh). These help to support your immune system and may help reduce allergic reactions

It is always important to remember that foods considered to be good to eat for eczema may still cause a flare-up in you if you have an allergy to that food.

Are there specific diet plans for eczema?

There isn’t one specific eczema diet plan that will be suitable for everyone, and each individual will have foods that may or may not make their eczema worse.

  • Mediterranean diet – This diet includes foods such as fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and fish. It may also contain very small amounts of red meat, sweet desserts, and red wine (which contains quercetin)
  • Dyshidrotic diet: This is specifically for those with dyshidrotic eczema (tiny blisters on your hands and feet) a type of eczema where you have a nickel sensitivity. Touching certain metal objects such as jewelry may cause an eczema flare-up. (The American Academy of Dermatology recommends those who are sensitive to nickel should also avoid foods containing nickel). Food allergens may also cause flare-ups and nickel and cobalt may make the symptoms worse. Food containing nickel and cobalt include whole grains, oat, baking powder, chickpeas, and canned foods. Foods high in vitamin C (such as oranges, cauliflower, pineapple, and mango) can help reduce the absorption
  • Elimination diet (for those who don’t know what their triggers are). Here you make one dietary change at a time. Eczema can also be caused by other factors other than the food you eat, making the diagnosis of the cause more difficult. Begin by removing certain food groups or specific foods for 3 days at a time to see if this has an effect on your eczema flare-up

What is the best milk for eczema sufferers?

Older children with mild eczema occasionally find that their eczema is better with sheep’s or goat’s milk instead of cow’s milk. Almond and coconut milk have been found to actually worsen eczema flare-ups.

What foods help eczema go away?

Fruits and vegetables such as apples, broccoli, blueberries, spinach, and kale help improve eczema flare-ups.

Would eating gluten-free foods help?

Celiac disease and eczema are closely associated with one another. Treatment for celiac disease involves removing gluten from your diet. Individuals with celiac disease or sensitivity to gluten and eczema can see an improvement in eczema flare-ups if gluten is removed from their diets.

What is the best way to prevent eczema flare-ups?

Eczema flare-ups can be caused by a number of factors, not just the food you eat. You can prevent or minimize flare-ups by wearing protective gloves, especially when coming into contact with environmental factors that can trigger a flare-up, using a recommended moisturizer after bathing or trying to reduce your stress levels.

Over-the-counter topical creams and treatments can help to reduce your symptoms of eczema. Also, allergy testing will help you determine what may cause your flare-ups and help you decide the best treatment for your eczema.

To help manage your symptoms of eczema make sure you eat a healthy diet with fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and protein. This may help prevent some or all of your flare-ups.

Talk to your doctor or dermatologist if you’re planning to become pregnant and you have a family history of eczema. They will be able to give you medical advice for preventive measures to reduce your child’s chances of developing eczema.

Medically reviewed

A medical professional has reviewed this article.

Jamie Winn, PharmD
Jamie Winn, PharmD

Jamie Winn, PharmD

Medical Writer & Reviewer

Jamie Winn, PharmD

Medical Writer & Reviewer

Dr. Jamie Winn received his Doctor of Pharmacy in 2002 from the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy, Columbia, SC. Jamie is a medical reviewer for NiceRx.

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Sources (3)

  1. Healthline - How to Create an Eczema-Friendly Diet

  2. Medical News Today - Eczema elimination diet and foods to eat

  3. National Eczema Association - Learn how diet affects eczema

The content on this website is intended for information purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice. The information on this website should not be relied upon and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always speak to your doctor regarding the risks and benefits of any treatment.