Atopic eczema (the most common type of eczema) is a kind of chronic skin disorder that can be exacerbated or triggered by several things in the environment. And these trigger factors can vary from sufferer to sufferer. But generally – dust mites, animal feather /skin, pollen, and even stress can have an effect in triggering the flare-ups. How about the foods (diet)? Do they also have an effect?
The answer may vary from sufferer to sufferer. But it has been thought for many years that what kids with eczema eat may have an effect. Some studies are continuously going, and about last 10-15 years the effect of diet in people with this skin disorder has been better understood.
Most parents are more likely to use changes in diet as a potential lifestyle approach for their kid’s eczema treatment. There is nothing wrong with this opinion since diet is on the first thought of ‘an easy option to change’.
Unfortunately, it is not always as easy as you think. In fact, many times eczema and diet can be a complicated issue. For instance, there is currently no a specific test to clearly know whether or not the problem is related to diet.
Furthermore, finding the trigger foods are also not easy, because we know well that your skin is not only affected by diet. In other words, there are many other factors that can affect the skin. You might also like to read about the link between gluten and eczema in this section!
As mentioned before, there is still no test or procedure that can be 100 percent reliable to gather information about which food that is related to the problem.
Foods what we eat can cause different types of reactions in our skin, and this is only one of many reasons of why it’s not easy to clearly know which one that really has an effect on eczema.
However, there are some steps that you and your doctor can explore to help find the answer.
Closely monitoring your child and writing down any change in the skin (particularly after eating a specific food that may have an effect) can be a helpful starting point in finding the answer.
For some eczema sufferers, a diary – keeping a record of the flare-up and the symptoms related with drinks /foods eaten over a period of 4-6 weeks can be helpful in finding the food problem. If your child has immediate type food reactions, some tests such as blood test or skin prick test may help.
As the name suggests, this kind of blood test is used to measure a specific substance of antibody (especially one that can be potential to cause a reaction to food) in the bloodstream.
If the result of the test found too high level of it after eating a specific food, this means that that food may cause a negative reaction. On the other hand, if the result showed negative level or low level, that food is unlikely to have an effect in causing negative reaction.
The drawbacks, this test is only effective for a small number of foods. Moreover in fact, it also often gives a wrong diagnosis.
It is usually used for an immediate type, skin-hypersensitivity reaction to a specific food. To analyze whether or not a specific food can affect the skin, some small drops of extract of that food are putted onto the skin and a small scratch /prick made.
Fore-arm is usually the common site to place small drops of food extract. If this area is going to become itchy or red, this confirms certain substances of that food trigger a reaction.
Most kids with eczema who take this test will have a positive result, but only about 30 percent will actually find that the flare up of their eczema is related to eating that food. This suggests that it also often provides a wrong result.
Both skin prick test and IgE antibody test are usually carried out in a hospital clinic. In general, they are not intended to be used as a definite diagnosis. Instead, it is more likely to be used as a guide of which foods that may be related to eczema and may trigger the flare-up /worsen the symptoms.
If compared to other test mentioned before, this option may be the best way in finding foods that trigger atopic eczema flare ups in children. Generally, it will involve the following procedures:
- Eliminating all sources or substances of the suspected foods for about 2-6 weeks to carry improvement in the problem.
- Then allow patient to eat the suspected foods to carry a return of the flare-up or to see whether the problem gets worse.
- And then replay the first procedure for the second time to see whether or not the problem does improves after eliminating the suspected foods.
To keep safe, these procedures must be supervised by a health professional /doctor /dietitian!
As mentioned before, the foods that can be a trigger factor of the flare-up can vary from sufferer to sufferer. And this is one of several reasons for why there is actually no single formula of best diet that works best for all sufferers.
However, there are some common food triggers – but again this can differ considerably between sufferers.
The following are some of these foods that are often reported can worsen the symptoms and may trigger the flare-up.