While creams are typically the first line of defense for eczema sufferers, many people wonder if there may be a connection between eczema and diet. Similar to the connection sometimes drawn between acne and diet, this link is possible though not always direct. Inflammation is actually the primary overlap between diet and skin conditions such as eczema, so in this article we’ll explore how substantial that connection is.
Because eczema is an inflammatory condition, reducing general inflammation in the body often helps to manage the unwanted symptoms that come along with eczema flare-ups. One way to reduce inflammation is to eat anti-inflammatory foods…
While there still isn’t significant enough scientific research to draw a clear connection between eczema and diet, a lot of anecdotal evidence points to the ability of your diet to play a role in the itchy skin condition.
How Food Affects Inflammation
First and foremost, it’s important to understand that not all inflammation in the body is bad. Inflammation is actually your body’s natural way of defending itself from foreign invaders. For example, when you’re sick or injured, inflammation works to protect the body.
However, while this short-term reaction is beneficial, long-term inflammation is connected to a number of conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
Certain foods have been shown to release T cells involved in your immune response as well as immunoglobulin E (also known as IgE), which is produced in response to threat and often indicates allergic reaction. These foods you’ll want to avoid, as they contribute to long-term inflammation when eaten regularly (read more on that later).
Foods that Might Reduce Eczema Symptoms
Eating a healthy, balanced diet full of nutrient-rich foods can have a positive effect on inflammation levels in the body, impacting the severity and frequency of eczema flare-ups. Anti-inflammatory foods include:
- Foods high in omega-3s — mackerel, salmon, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, herring, albacore tuna, sardines, anchovies
- Quercetin-rich foods — broccoli, kale, spinach, apples, blueberries, cherries, black and green tea, cranberries, asparagus
- Foods with probiotics — kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, naturally fermented pickles, miso soup, natto, kombucha, apple cider vinegar, kimchi
If you can focus on consuming more fresh, whole-food meals, you’ll be on the right track to helping manage eczema flare-ups through diet.
Foods to Consider Avoiding for Eczema
While you want to focus on eating fresh fruits and vegetables along with healthy fats and protein, there are also foods you want to consider avoiding.
Eliminating processed junk foods will help to reduce inflammation in the body that’s linked back to eczema.
However, it’s also not uncommon for people suffering from eczema to have food intolerances (they may not even know about) that are contributing to long-term inflammation.
Common food intolerances include:
- Cow’s dairy
Because everyone’s body reacts differently to specific foods, it’s almost impossible to provide a generic eczema diet that would appropriately support everyone. That’s why with the help of your health care provider, you’ll want to determine which foods you may be reacting to.
Creating your Own Eczema Diet Plan
Determining what foods are connected to your eczema flare-ups isn’t always straightforward. You can experience reactions to food hours — or even up to two days — after you eat it. In addition, there are a variety of non-dietary factors that can exacerbate eczema flares.
Common Diets People Try to Improve Eczema
While a personalized and tailored diet is much more likely to have the desired effects than general ones, there are a few that work for many people.
- Mediterranean diet — the foods that are prominent in this diet include fruits, vegetables, fish, and healthy fats. These groups contain omega-3s or quercetin for reducing inflammatory reactions.
- Dyshidrotic diet — dyshidrotic eczema is a skin condition that often appears as small blisters on the hands and feet. Cobalt and nickel have been shown to worsen these symptoms and diets avoiding items such as whole wheat/grain, oat, and canned foods can be beneficial.
- Gluten-free diet — there are a number of people who experience eczema and celiac disease together, which may be caused by a linked genetic factor. In these instances, gluten-free diets to treat celiac disease may reduce the symptoms of eczema as well.
Beyond Diet: What Else to Consider
Knowing what foods to eat to help reduce inflammation in the body and which foods may be triggers for eczema is helpful knowledge in managing eczema flare-ups. Unfortunately, eating an inflammation-friendly diet isn’t typically the end-all-be-all for eczema treatment.
Besides being rooted in inflammation, eczema is also often triggered by an imbalance in the skin microbiome. That’s why it’s also important to treat the skin directly.
Dr. Peter Lio, board certified dermatologist, explains, “One of the important things we know now is that there are certain undesirable bacteria that we really are on the lookout for. And particularly with eczema, we can see some of these strains growing out of control. And when that happens, it can throw everything into disarray. Historically, we thought that this was more of a response to other factors like the skin barrier being broken, or the immune system being out of whack. But now, we're learning more than ever that this can be a primary issue, that the bacterial imbalance can drive the eczema itself.”
It’s important to address an imbalance of bad bacteria without killing off all of your good bacteria and damaging the skin microbiome by using antibiotics that contribute to resistance and have other undesirable effects in the body.
That’s why we created Gladskin — to restore skin balance gently and effectively through the use of endolysin Micreobalance® (our patented smart protein). It brings balance back to the microbiome gently and effectively, while moisturizing at the same time to give you the relief you’ve been searching for.