Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is an itchy skin rash that occurs most commonly on the elbows, knees, and cheeks. This chronic condition causes a painful rash, blisters, and dry, rough skin. Atopic dermatitis occurs most commonly in children, with 10% to 20% affected by it, although it may also develop in teenagers and adults. Food allergies may trigger or exacerbate symptoms in people with eczema.
This skin condition is closely associated with a variety of allergies and allergy-like conditions, including asthma, hay fever, and food allergies. There is also a genetic component to this condition; children born into families with a history of any type of allergy are more likely to develop atopic dermatitis.
It is estimated that about a third of eczema patients have at least one food sensitivity. For these patients, an allergy diagnosis should not be made through skin tests, as this can trigger an eczema flare-up and rashes not related to the allergen, obscuring the test results. The most common foods to trigger eczema symptoms include milk, eggs, soy, wheat, and peanuts, with eggs the most common food-related trigger.
In many cases, those with food sensitivities find that avoiding their allergen can reduce or even eliminate their eczema symptoms. Because of the link between these conditions, many doctors recommend food allergy tests for anyone recently diagnosed with eczema. However, following an allergen-free diet should not be considered a ‘magic bullet’ for curing eczema; many people with both conditions find that their eczema persists even after cutting the allergen out of their diet.