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If you have eczema, you may be self-conscious about the red patches on your body, but you've tried every cream out there, and nothing helps. Now you're looking for other solutions and wondering if what you eat could be to blame. Is there an eczema diet you can try?
Turns out, there might be. Researchers are finding more and more connections between what we eat and the health of our skin. While there's no official diet for eczema sufferers, there are certain foods that some sufferers have found can help (or worsen) your condition.
Let's take a closer look at the link between diet and eczema and uncover which foods you should (and shouldn't) eat to help get your skin in better shape.
Table Of Contents
- What Is Eczema?
- The Diet-Skin Connection
- Potential Benefits Of An Eczema Diet
- Possible Problems With This Diet
What Is Eczema?
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that results in dry, red, itchy patches of skin. While the exact cause of this condition is unknown, it's thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
People with eczema often have a defective skin barrier that allows moisture out and irritants in. This can make the skin dry, cracked, and vulnerable to bacteria, viruses, and other allergens.
When exposed to these irritants, the skin can become inflamed and lead to the characteristic eczema rash. You might notice patches of skin that are:
- Scaly or crusted over
- Inflamed or swollen
Eczema can occur anywhere on the body but is most commonly found on the face, hands, feet, inside the elbows, and behind the knees. It can also come and go, flaring up for some time and then clearing up for a while.
While there's no cure for eczema, there are treatments that can help relieve symptoms and keep the condition under control. In addition to medicated creams and ointments, some people with eczema find that changing their diet can make a big difference.
The Diet-Skin Connection
So, can your diet affect eczema? Currently, there's no definitive answer to this question. However, some evidence suggests that what you eat can influence the health of your skin and play a role in eczema flare-ups.
Researchers believe that in some people, certain foods may trigger flare-ups by causing inflammation or an allergic reaction.
For instance, a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology looked at children’s diets from birth through the age of four and discovered interesting connections between diet and an eczema diagnosis. Among their findings was the concept that probiotics could help the skin.
Other research discovered that people with eczema are more likely to have food allergies. A study found that 10-30% of all patients with this condition experience eczema flare-ups because of specific foods.
While more research is needed, experts are learning that what you eat can affect your skin. So if you're struggling with eczema, it may be time to make some dietary changes.
The Eczema Diet
As mentioned above, there isn't a one-size-fits-all diet for people with eczema. However, you can follow some general guidelines to help improve your skin.
Here's a look at some of the best and worst foods for people with this condition.
The Best Foods For Eczema
If you have eczema, you'll want to focus on eating a healthy diet. Some foods that eczema sufferers include in their diet are:
- Fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, tomatoes, blueberries, and cherries
- Nuts and seeds
- Olive oil
- Herbal tea
- Probiotic-rich foods like yogurt and sauerkraut
In addition, some people with eczema find that they feel better after following a diet that's rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients are abundant in fatty fish, like salmon, mackerel, and herring. You can also get them from flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.
And while what you eat matters, your drinks do as well. It's essential to stay hydrated, but you want to avoid sugary or alcoholic beverages. These can bring on even more symptoms of eczema. Instead, drink plenty of water or unsweetened tea throughout the day.
These options will give your body the needed fluid without adding unnecessary sugar or calories. They'll also help keep your skin hydrated from the inside out, so it doesn’t get too dry.
The foods and drinks on this list have a few things in common. They're all packed with nutrients — vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats — that can help keep your skin healthy.
You’ll notice no processed foods or refined sugars on this list. Instead of those factory-made options, you'll focus on eating whole foods as close to their natural state as possible.
The Worst Foods For Eczema
If you're ready to change your diet, you may want to avoid foods that are not part of a healthy diet. These include:
- Dairy products
- Processed foods
- Citrus fruits
- Artificial additives
- Certain spices, like cloves, basil, oregano, and cinnamon
Remember that everyone is different. You'll need to pay attention to your body to see what foods worsen your eczema.
If you don’t already have a list of triggers, try keeping a food diary. For two weeks, write down everything you eat and drink and any eczema flare-ups you experience. This will help you identify potential issues.
Also, since you may be at higher risk of food allergies, consider working with an allergist or dietitian to determine if you’re allergic to anything. If you are, avoid that food (or foods) going forward.
If you don't have any allergies, you may need to experiment with different foods to see which ones trigger your eczema. The best way to do this is to eliminate a food from your diet for two weeks and see if your symptoms improve.
Then, slowly add it to your diet again to see if it triggers a reaction. Once you reintroduce a food, pay attention to how your skin reacts. If you have any redness, itchiness, or other symptoms, it’s a good indicator that the food isn't agreeing with you.
However, if you don't have any issues, it's likely that food can remain part of your healthy diet. Then, you can pick another food and repeat the process.
As you can tell, it takes time to learn which foods cause problems. So while trying to find your triggers, focus on eating the healthy options on the "best" list. These nutrient-rich foods will help support your skin health while you experiment.
Potential Benefits Of An Eczema Diet
In addition to helping you get the healthy-looking skin you’re after, following an eczema diet may be part of an overall healthier diet. As we all know by now, the foods you eat (and avoid) can have a big impact on your quality of life.
Possible Problems With An Eczema Diet
Of course, no diet is perfect, and there are a few potential drawbacks to following an eczema diet.
First, you’ll need to work with your healthcare provider to make sure you can maintain a healthy diet while trying different things for your skin.
Second, some "healthy" foods may actually trigger your eczema. So, you'll need to be careful about what you eat and pay attention to how your body responds. Just because a diet change worked for one person doesn’t automatically mean it’ll work for you.
Also, this diet requires a lot of planning and preparation. You may need to cook more meals from scratch and spend more time reading labels. This can be challenging if you're busy or don't enjoy being in the kitchen.
Finally, sticking to this diet can be challenging, especially when you're around others. Food is such a vital part of social gatherings that it can be hard to say no when everyone around you is indulging.
Your willpower may be tested, but try to remember how much better you feel when you eat the right foods. This can help you stick to your diet, even when it's tough.
Are Dietary Changes In Your Future?
Making dietary changes is a big decision. It's important to do your research and talk to your doctor before doing so. They can help you determine if you should avoid certain foods.
Your healthcare provider may also be able to recommend specific foods or supplements that can help. They may draw some blood to check for nutrient deficiencies contributing to the problem. This information can help ensure you get all of the nutrients you need.
It’s important to note here that even when you follow your doctor’s recommendations, an eczema diet is not a quick fix. You can’t change what you eat for one day and expect to see results.
But with patience and perseverance, you may be able to find the perfect combination of foods that work for you and your skin.
While waiting, support your skin's health with Bodewell Eczema Daily Calming Cream. This gentle yet effective cream helps soothe eczema symptoms and improve the appearance of skin over time.
With the right support and products, you’ll soon be back to better skin days!