Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a common skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It’s characterized by dry, itchy, and inflamed skin that can be both uncomfortable and unsightly.
While the exact cause of eczema isn’t fully understood, evidence suggests that people with food allergies may be more prone to developing the condition. Take a moment as we explore the link between eczema and food allergies, and what it means for people living with both conditions.
When you have immune-related conditions like allergies, asthma, and eczema, an allergist is one of your best resources in understanding how to best manage your condition.
At Riviera Allergy Medical Center, allergy and immunology specialist Dr. Ulrike Ziegner takes great care in evaluating, diagnosing, and helping patients manage conditions like eczema.
What is eczema?
Eczema is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that is characterized by dry, itchy, and inflamed skin. It typically begins in childhood and can last into adulthood. Eczema can occur anywhere on the body, but it is most commonly found on the face, hands, feet, and the insides of the elbows and knees.
It can be triggered by a variety of factors, including stress, environmental factors, and certain foods.
The link between eczema and food allergies
Growing evidence suggests a link between eczema and food allergies. Children with eczema are more likely to have food allergies than those without eczema. In addition, adults with eczema who have a history of food allergies tend to have more severe eczema symptoms.
One theory behind this link is that the immune system dysfunction that causes food allergies may also play a role in the development of eczema.
When someone with a food allergy consumes a particular food, their immune system overreacts, causing inflammation throughout the body. This inflammation can manifest as eczema symptoms in people who are already predisposed to the condition.
Another theory suggests that the skin barrier dysfunction that is characteristic of eczema may make it easier for allergens to penetrate the skin and trigger an immune response. This could explain why people with eczema are more likely to develop food allergies.
What does this mean for people with eczema and food allergies?
For people with eczema and food allergies, managing both conditions is important for overall health and well-being. Eliminating trigger foods from your diet may help to reduce eczema symptoms and prevent flare-ups.
It's also essential to work with a specialist to develop a treatment plan that addresses both conditions.
Diagnosing eczema and food allergies
If you suspect that you have eczema or a food allergy, it's important to seek a proper diagnosis from a health care provider. To diagnose eczema, Dr. Ziegner typically examines your skin and asks about your medical history and symptoms.
For food allergies, Dr. Ziegner may recommend a skin prick test or blood test to identify specific allergens that trigger your symptoms.
An elimination diet is useful when the allergic food has been identified. This involves removing trigger foods from your diet and gradually reintroducing them to identify which ones are causing your symptoms.
Preventing eczema flare-ups
While eczema has no cure, you can take steps to prevent flare-ups and manage your symptoms. These include:
- Avoiding trigger foods and substances
- Keeping your skin moisturized
- Using gentle, fragrance-free skin care products
- Avoiding harsh soaps and detergents
- Managing stress levels
In addition to these lifestyle changes, Dr. Ziegner can recommend treatments to help manage your eczema symptoms, such as topical corticosteroids.
The Riviera Allergy Medical Center team is here to help you along the path to feeling better and getting your symptoms under control.
To get started, call our Redondo Beach, California, office at 310-438-6440 today to schedule a visit with Dr. Ziegner. You’re also welcome to send the team a message through our website at any time.