Eczema (atopic dermatitis) causes red, dry, and itchy patches on the skin. It’s the most common chronic skin condition in children, affecting 10-20 percent of kids.
It’s no secret that what we eat has a big impact on our overall health. And while there is debate in the medical community about the role food allergies play in causing eczema, there is some evidence to suggest that kids with the skin condition are more likely to also suffer from some type of food allergy.
What we know
Food allergies are a common problem, affecting as many as 1 in 25 children. They’re more common among kids with eczema. Among children under age 5 who have eczema, as many as 30 percent may also have a food allergy.
An allergic reaction to food can worsen a child’s skin problems, causing hives, itching, and redness. If your child already has eczema and then suffers an allergic reaction after eating, the symptoms will compound and make your child extremely uncomfortable.
Research also suggests that eczema is a precursor to allergies. In fact, dermatologists typically advise parents of babies and children with eczema to be on the lookout for possible food allergies. A recent study of babies ages 3 months to 18 months found that even in mild cases of eczema, approximately 15 percent of the infants had been diagnosed food allergies.
What to do
If your child suffers from eczema and is not responding to treatment, talk to your pediatrician about the possibility of food allergies. The food allergies most important to test for in this age group are egg, milk, peanut, wheat, and soy. Current studies indicate that people with eczema and egg allergy showed an improvement in symptoms on an egg-free diet. For people with other food allergies, it’s not yet clear if avoiding those foods will improve their symptoms, but it’s something that is being carefully studied.
- National Eczema Association
- Fast Food Tied to Asthma, Eczema and Hay Fever in Kids.
National Eczema Association
- Food Allergy Guidelines as They Relate to Eczema.
American Academy of Dermatology
- Dermatologists caution that atopic dermatitis is a strong precursor to food allergies.
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
- Allergy Testing for Children.
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