For people with eczema, or atopic dermatitis, eliminating specific food groups from the diet may help identify foods that trigger symptoms. Meanwhile, probiotics and foods containing flavonoids may benefit those with eczema.
There is no cure for eczema. However, some over-the-counter (OTC) creams and medications may help reduce symptoms. Sometimes, doctors may also recommend avoiding specific foods known to make eczema worse.
In cases of known food allergies or sensitivities, a doctor may recommend avoiding those trigger foods to help with eczema.
Some people may also make other dietary changes to reduce eczema symptoms. This article looks at options that a person may wish to consider.
Because eczema is an inflammatory condition, some believe an anti-inflammatory diet could help manage it. There is not enough evidence to say whether this approach is helpful. However, a
Eating a nutritious diet based on whole foods may benefit a person’s health.
Examples of anti-inflammatory foods include:
Probiotic foods include:
Foods high in flavonoids
Examples of flavonoid-containing foods include:
A person should always discuss major changes to their diet with a doctor first. This is especially important for children and anyone with food allergies or other health conditions.
According to the
While there is no specific diet plan to reduce eczema symptoms, diet plans emphasizing whole and antioxidant-rich foods
The Mediterranean diet focuses on whole foods, such as:
- nuts and seeds
- whole grains
- legumes and beans
- fish and seafood
- healthy fats, such as olive oil
This diet plan typically limits some foods, such as:
- ultra-processed food
- red meat, such as beef, except rarely
- foods containing refined flour and refined sugar
A gluten-free diet
For some people with gluten sensitivities, such as those with gluten allergies or celiac disease, gluten-containing foods
Gluten is a protein in some grains, such as wheat, rye, and barley.
An anti-inflammatory diet
There is no specific anti-inflammatory diet, but an anti-inflammatory diet generally includes foods rich in compounds that
- leafy green vegetables, such as kale
- colorful vegetables
- berries and fruits
- whole grains
- legumes and nuts
An anti-inflammatory diet also avoids foods that may cause inflammation when consumed in excess, such as:
- refined grains
- refined sugars
- ultra-processed foods
- red and processed meat
For some people with food allergies and sensitivities, eating certain foods can trigger the body to release immune system compounds that cause inflammation. These, in turn, can contribute to an eczema flare.
Even if a person is not allergic to a particular food, they may have sensitivity to it and could experience delayed skin symptoms after exposure.
Some allergy symptoms, such as itching, may immediately appear and can worsen eczema. In addition, “delayed” food-sensitive eczema reactions can happen
Before starting an elimination diet, a person should talk with a doctor about their eczema symptoms and which foods could be causing problems. They may wish to create a list of possible “trigger foods” with a doctor’s advice.
While avoiding certain foods, a person monitors their symptoms to determine whether they ease. Then, they reintroduce the foods individually to determine whether the symptoms return. This helps a person learn which trigger foods may be causing problems.
Here are some questions that can help a person monitor any changes:
Do my eczema symptoms get better while avoiding a particular food? If a person’s symptoms do not ease when eliminating a food, they likely do not need to remove it from their diet.
Do my eczema symptoms come back after reintroducing a food? If a person’s symptoms worsen after adding a particular food back into their diet, they may consider avoiding it.
A person may find it helpful to do the following:
- Keep a detailed journal of everything they eat and drink and their symptoms. Comparing these records may help narrow down potential trigger foods.
- After the elimination period, slowly add foods back into the diet, one at a time. That way, it is easier to tell which foods cause a reaction.
- Some food reactions can take a day or longer to appear. Do not add a new food back into the diet every day. Instead, reintroduce the same food for several days to check for a reaction. After a few days, a person can add another food back into the diet.
Sometimes, a doctor may recommend allergy testing to help determine the best treatment for eczema. However, a doctor must interpret the test results. Even if a food shows a positive result on an allergy test, removing it from a person’s diet may not be appropriate or helpful.
Potential benefits and risks
In a 2022 review of studies, it was found that eliminating trigger foods slightly eased certain eczema symptoms, such as daytime itching and sleeplessness. However, researchers note that the evidence is limited.
There are also some risks associated with elimination diets. Experts caution that eliminating foods from the diet may increase the risk of developing food allergies and nutritional deficiencies.
An elimination diet may not be suitable for everyone with eczema, and it is important to talk with a doctor before trying this approach.
People with nickel allergies typically have skin reactions after touching certain metal objects. Objects can include:
In some cases, people allergic to nickel may develop eczema symptoms due to contact with the metal. A nickel allergy may also cause episodes of dyshidrotic eczema, which typically affects the hands and feet.
Nickel is also present in some common foods. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), people who are very sensitive to nickel may consider avoiding foods that contain nickel.
Foods that are high in nickel include:
It is important to talk with a doctor before deciding to eliminate any foods, as elimination can increase food allergies and cause nutritional deficiencies.
Birch pollen sensitization
Some people who are sensitive to birch pollen may experience a reaction to certain foods. This reaction is known as oral allergy syndrome, and for some people with eczema, it can
This sensitivity may be
People with birch pollen sensitization may react to foods such as:
People with eczema should speak with their doctor if they have a pollen allergy or experience mild allergic reactions to any of the above foods.
Eliminating trigger foods may help some people to reduce their eczema symptoms. At the same time, removing foods from the diet could mean losing out on essential nutrient sources.
It is important to consult a doctor or dietitian before making major dietary changes. This helps ensure that a person’s diet contains all the necessary nutrients. Always talk with a health professional before starting an elimination diet or removing foods from the diet.
Elimination diets may not be appropriate for children, pregnant people, and people who have experienced eating disorders.
Researchers have studied many supplements for their effects on eczema. These include:
According to the AAD, vitamins D and E may show promising results, but there is not enough conclusive evidence to prove this. More research is needed on fish oil to know whether it is effective.
It is a good idea to first speak with a doctor when considering adding supplements to an eczema care routine. This is especially important if the supplements would be for a child or person with additional health conditions.
Probiotic supplements are a popular home remedy for eczema, though research findings do not necessarily support their use.
There is no strong evidence to suggest that probiotic supplements can treat eczema, according to a
However, the researchers noted that certain eczema symptoms were rated slightly lower after probiotic treatment. In addition, there were few side effects reported.
Because there are so many probiotic supplements and every person’s needs may differ, it is difficult to say whether a person will experience any health benefits when taking probiotics.
When choosing a probiotic supplement, a person should talk with a doctor, a pharmacist, or a dietitian.
While a person’s diet is not always a trigger for eczema, some people may find that their symptoms ease when they make dietary changes. Making these changes and monitoring the results can help people determine whether changing their diet could help them manage their condition.
If a person wishes to eliminate foods from their diet or make other major changes, they should talk with their doctor to ensure they are not missing out on essential nutrition, such as vitamins and minerals.