While a healthy diet is important to anyone with a medical condition, it may be crucial for those with eczema triggered by food allergens. Marked by itchy, dry, cracked, and reddened skin, eczema is a chronic skin condition, with the most common form being atopic eczema. Atopic eczema mainly begins in childhood, and about 10 per cent of children with atopic eczema are affected by food allergens, according to the National Health Service (NHS).
In children, the foods that typically trigger allergic reaction are cow’s milk, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts and other nuts, and fish. In adults, food triggers tend to be nuts and peanuts, along with fish and shellfish. Rather than abruptly cutting out these food items if you or your child has eczema, the NHS recommends that you discuss the possibility of food allergies with your GP. The National Eczema Society recommends working with a food allergist in order to be tested for food allergies as well as practising a food elimination diet.
Studies regarding the use of supplementation for eczema have not resulted in conclusive evidence thus far. However, some people do find relief from supplements, so it may be worthwhile to discuss them with your GP. People with eczema may not process essential fatty acids normally, leading to low levels of gamma-linoleic acid (GLA), which is important for proper immune system function. GLA may be found in evening primrose oil, starflower oil, and blackcurrant seed oil. These supplements may reduce the number of eczema flare-ups as well as the severity and length of the flare-ups. Fish oils and B vitamins also may do the same.