Eczema and food allergies are both fairly common afflictions.
Eczema affects up to 20% of kids and 5% of adults, while 7% of kids and 6% of adults say they have symptoms of at least one food allergy. The two conditions are related: In some patients, their eczema may get worse due to food allergies, while in other patients, eczema may be responsible for the development of food allergies in the first place.
If you’re dealing with these conditions, Dr. Sherwin Hariri and our team at Beverly Hills Allergy in Beverly Hills and Glendale, California, can help. Here’s what we want you to know about the link between food allergies and eczema.
What is eczema?
Eczema is a non-contagious, inflammatory skin condition that usually causes an itchy, scaly, red rash. We don’t know the exact cause of eczema; it’s likely caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Eczema is also called atopic dermatitis. Symptoms include raised patches of pinkish or reddish skin that itch, flake, weep, and sometimes become crusty. Typically, these symptoms get worse during flare-ups caused by various triggers.
To keep eczema under control, you should try to keep your skin moist and avoid anything that dries out your skin.
How does eczema relate to food allergies?
Eczema usually appears to precede food allergies. Scientists have identified a pattern of development called atopic march, in which eczema appears first, followed by food allergies, seasonal allergies, and then asthma.
We don’t know exactly why these things occur in this manner, but it may have something to do with the fact that eczema diminishes the barrier function of your skin, allowing allergens into your body, which causes an immune response. This may hypersensitize your immune system, making it more vulnerable to food allergies.
While food allergies don’t cause eczema, they can trigger your eczema symptoms to become worse. In some cases, people with eczema have a reaction to food even if they don’t actually have food allergies. This is likely a food sensitivity or intolerance.
Treating eczema and food allergies can be complicated, but it mostly involves avoiding certain foods and treating your eczema or allergy symptoms when they occur. Things like probiotics, vitamin D, and an anti-inflammatory diet can help as well.
If you have a child younger than five with eczema that won’t respond to treatment, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends food allergy testing to see if allergens may be to blame.
If you need help managing eczema, food allergies, or both, Dr. Hariri and our team can provide the guidance and treatment you need. Contact us at either Beverly Hills Allergy location to set up an appointment. You can also use our online scheduler anytime.