Top 9 Common Foods That Cause Eczema Outbreaks Or Make It Worse

Updated: 10/28/2019

Rooted from the Greek word “ekzein”, eczema is a term referring to a group of skin conditions that disturbs plenty of people[1]. Sometimes, it can be used to relate to atopic dermatitis, a chronic skin disease for children happening due to allergy. In a more common case, eczema describes the rash-like skin conditions coming along with itchy, red, rough, inflamed, and cracked. It is recorded that up to 20% of children and 3% of adults worldwide experience some types of eczema annually; especially people who live in colder areas are more likely to suffer from it. Eczema is considered as complex, stubborn trouble with a lot of uncomfortable symptoms. There are a lot of remedies and solutions suggested for this issue, each of which is specified for different types. Among all of these treatment options, an adjustment in the daily diet, including eliminating foods that may trigger an inflammatory response for those with eczema is considered as the top practical and effective one. In this article, will list out some types of common foods that cause eczema outbreaks or make it worse that you should be aware of. Don’t skip it as it may be beneficial to you in some days.

Top 9 Common Foods That Cause Eczema Outbreaks Or Make It Worse

I. Is Eczema Contagious?

Eczema is atopic dermatitis that causes acute or chronic inflammation due to different causes. As a result, the skin will be itchy, red, and blistered, and the disease can appear anywhere on the skin. Eczema is a non-contagious skin disease. However, people need to pay attention to its causes and symptoms for timely treatment, limiting the disease to spread to the surrounding skin on the body.

II. Can Eczema Be Cured?

Eczema can affect the aesthetics and psychology of patients. In fact, eczema cannot be completely cured. Current treatments often focus on controlling itchiness, reducing atopic dermatitis symptoms or treating superinfection, and decreasing skin damage. However, to get the best results, patients need to follow a comprehensive treatment plan. 

III. What Should Be Done When Having Eczema?

Topical medications that treat eczema contain corticosteroids. This ingredient should not be used for overdose and for a long time because it can cause unwanted side effects to the body. Thus, you need to consult a dermatologist for proper dosage.

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Staying away from chemicals and limiting to soak in water for too long will prevent the skin from further irritation. Also, avoid scratching the itchy area well and limit the use of cosmetics. 

Besides, you need to avoid certain foods that cause eczema. Let’s us find out about the top foods that can make the disease worse. 

IV. Foods That Cause Eczema


Before taking a deep look at foods that may trigger an inflammatory response for those with eczema[2] there are two things you should keep in mind. First of all, an elimination diet should only be carried out under the supervision of a health practitioner, especially when it is applied to small children. The latter note, and also the more important one, is just about the possible eczema triggers. It means that they may not be the actual allergies for your case, so don’t be confused with two concepts or it may be life-threatening. These foods below are applied to everyone yet for some, the actual causes may beyond this list. So, if you experience any instant reactions after consuming some typical types of food, even though they do not appear in this list, let ask for help from the doctor for timely actions.

1. Dairy

foods that cause eczema

Dairy foods such as milk, yogurt, whey, and cheese are common triggers for eczema. People who get allergy after consuming dairy are often sensitive to the proteins contained in cow’s milk. The sensitivity or hypersensitivity will result in inflammation and skin irritation, provoking pre-existing conditions like eczema.

When the allergic reaction happens, a chemical called histamine, which is responsible for these common symptoms of allergy will be produced[3]. This histamine level in the skin will cause irritation and inflammation, make the skin unstable and provoke the breakout of rash. The other symptoms that come with eczema from dairy are asthma with wheezing or coughing, digestive issues such as nausea or entail gas and sinus complications. The allergic reaction can make the nasal passages inflamed and block the breath through the nose, resulting in sinus post-nasal drip and headaches.

2.  Gluten

Gluten, the protein found in rye, barley grains, and wheat can lead to an allergic condition and cause eczema[4]. Just a small amount of gluten can trigger the immune system reaction, resulting in severe stomach pain and also skin condition. These gluten sensitivity reactions appear as herpetiformis, or also known as DH, a type of eczema rash[5]. Once these reactions due to gluten happen, itchy rashes may appear as blisters on the elbows, knees or back. Without timely actions, the blisters form lesions and the rash spread out quickly, which means that eczema condition gets worse. If you can remove all gluten from the daily diet on time, new blisters will be prevented and the existing one will be healed. Sadly, there are several hidden sources of gluten that people normally are not aware of. The three most common foods that contain hidden traces of gluten are spices, lentils, and oats. This protein can also be found in less common places such as multivitamins and soy sauces. Therefore, let make sure you read the product labels and purchase only the gluten-free ones. Some suggestions for you include millet, amaranth, quinoa, sorghum, and buckwheat.

3. Eggs

Chicken eggs are a familiar eczema trigger for many people. In fact, eggs cannot relate to eczema if that person is not allergic to eggs. It is the increase in the level of histamine caused by an egg allergy that leads to eczema[6]. If a person has an allergy to eggs, he will experience the symptoms after a few minutes or an hour. Your skin may get itchy, and if you scratch, your skin becomes inflamed, irritated, and blistered. Excessive scratching will worsen the condition and lead to secondary infections like impetigo. Other symptoms such as asthma, gastrointestinal complications, and inflamed nasal passages may come with eczema due to an egg allergy. Sometimes, not only chicken eggs but goose or duck eggs can cause problems. Thus, avoiding all products and foods related to eggs and replace them with foods for healthy skin will help your condition get better more quickly.

4. Soy

Products containing soy such as tempeh, edamame, soy milk, or miso can cause eczema in many people. A study in 2013 has been carried out on 175 people suffering from atopic dermatitis, one type of eczema to the correlation between it and soy allergy. The result showed that up to 1/3 of the patients are sensitized to soy products[7].  Moreover, hidden soy can also be contained in various processed foods and ingredients such as vegetable protein, vitamin E, or vegetable oil. Therefore, you should choose a whole food based diet and limit processed food consumption as much as possible.

5. Peanuts

foods that cause eczema

In 2015, a study in the peanut consumption had been carried out with the participants of 640 infants from 4 to 11 months with eczema. The result achieved shows that more than 20% of infants suffering from eczema are sensitized to peanut allergy[8]. Because it is a common trigger for allergies as well as eczema, peanuts and peanut oil these days are very easy to spot. Choose the products labelled peanut-free if you don’t want to get into trouble with eczema.

6. Tree Nuts

Tree nuts such as almonds, pistachios, pecans, cashews, walnuts, pine nuts, and Brazil nuts are a healthy addition to our diets. However, the immune systems of some people can mistakenly identify these tree nuts, especially almonds as a foreign guest and try to fight against it. The result of this reaction will include allergy symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, and itching. If you fail to recognize and keep consuming tree nuts, the eczema condition will get worse[9].

7. Nightshade Vegetables

The nightshade vegetables such as peppers, paprika, chili, eggplant, potatoes, tobacco, tomatoes, and even goji berries are an uncommon factor for allergies and eczema in comparison to these above foods[10].  However, there are still a few people having allergy symptoms due to the nightshade vegetable consumption. The low- level toxins in nightshade vegetables can cause inflammation for a small number of people, especially those who suffer from autoimmune disorders. If you are allergic to nightshade vegetables, don’t forget to limit the pasta sauce and ketchup as well.

8. Acidic Foods

With the high level of acid, foods such as citrus, tomatoes, and pineapple are one of the common causes of eczema. Even when you are not allergic to them, eating acidic foods when your skin is already irritated will make the condition worse quickly. Oranges and kiwi are two typical and strongly acidifying fruits, which contain a rich supply of two itchy chemicals: amines and salicylates. Avoid these products that contain acidic foods if you don’t want to trigger eczema and worsen your skin.

9. Grapes

Containing three itchy- promoting elements, including amines, salicylates, and monosodium, grapes and grape products, for example, raisins, wine, sultanas, and grape juice will be the last eczema trigger you should know about. These three chemicals are proved to worsen eczema condition and take it a longer time to heal. Instead, you can try peeled pears as it is an eczema-friendly alternative with low-salicylate level.

It is important to remind you that there is no specific test to show whether a type of food is irritating your eczema or not. All these foods listed in this article are the potential irritants, which means they may not be the actual foods that cause eczema in your case. You will have to create an exclusion diet by eliminating all possible triggers to test for the actual one. Sometimes, when it takes too long to provide an answer, you will need the help of doctors to reduce the time suffering from irritation. Eczema can happen to anyone, especially those with an allergy to special types of foods. Therefore, always pay attention to any abnormal changes in your skin to identify eczema as soon as possible and have the proper treatment. If your kids are under the test for eczema triggers, a professional supervisor is advised to take part in for safety. If you have any more ideas about foods that cause eczema, please share with us. For more information, please visit our main Food For Beauty page.

All of the contents provided in this article are for informational & educational purposes. We recommend you consult a healthcare professional to determine which method is appropriate for you.

Read more: Causes Of Oily Skin During Pregnancy And Treatment. This article was medically reviewed/fact checked by Janine Kelbach – BSN, RNC-OB.

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