UPDATED: 9/19/2020. Eczema or atopic dermatitis is a very common skin condition. It is estimated that 10% of the world’s population has some form of it, at some point in their lifetime.1 Some studies estimate that up to one third of children with eczema may also have some food allergies.2 This is a big problem for many parents and finding milk that will not exacerbate their child’s eczema is a struggle. It was definitely a struggle for me. In this article, I will discuss the best milk for eczema sufferers and talk about my experiences as well.
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There are many milk options including breastmilk, formula, cow milk and plant-based milk. Some people decide to continue to breastfeed past 1 year of age. More power to you if you decide. I personally chose to breastfeed with my second child until he was 2 years old. Mostly because it was difficult to wean him off breastmilk. By the time he turned 2 years old, I slowly transitioned him out of breastfeeding. I experimented with various milk alternatives that I discuss in this article. In the end, I decided on hemp milk and gave them to my children for several years. They tolerated it very well and it did not cause their eczema to flare up.
Breast milk or Formula?
As a side note, the World Health Organization (WHO) does recommend breastfeeding until 2 years old. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusively breastfeeding for the first 6 months. If breastfeeding is not an option, then formula (click link for the best formula available in the US) can be given until 1 year of age and even longer. After 1 year of age, cow milk is generally the milk of choice.
Unfortunately for those with eczema and food allergies, cow milk is not well tolerated and many children develop allergies and reactions whenever consuming this type of milk. Some children may have very bad reactions to the cow milk, to the point of leading to anaphylactic shock3. Fortunately, this is a worst case scenario and not common.
With that said, many mothers look to alternatives to cow’s milk. Recently, many alternatives such as plant-based milks have become available. Common plant-based milks include soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, flax milk, rice milk, oat milk, and hemp milk. We will discuss these options and see what is the best milk for eczema sufferers.
Where do you buy milk for eczema?
Many of these milk should be available at your local grocery. If you are looking for a market to deliver to your home, check out Thrive Market. Thrive Market believes in making healthy living accessible and affordable for everyone. They offer non-GMO, Organic, Gluten-Free, and Vegan foods and healthy products 25-50% below retail price. Not only that, they provide a free membership to a low-income family, teacher, or veteran. They are now offering a FREE gift when you sign up so check it out!
Hemp Milk (Best)
Hemp milk is made from the same plant that is used to produce marijuana. However, hemp milk has THC removed and will not cause mind altering effects like you would from smoking or consuming marijuana. 14 A study in 2005 revealed that hempseed oil dietary consumption improved the clinical symptoms in patients with atopic dermatitis.15 This study shines some light showing that hemp can be help those with eczema. Although hemp milk was not studied, we can extrapolate that hemp milk may be good for children with food sensitivities and eczema.
Hemp milk contains mostly polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and is rich in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. The ratio of omega 3 and 6 is optimal in hemp milk, between 2:1 and 3:1. Hemp milk also contains two proteins, albumin and edestin. They are easily digested and broken down into essential amino acids. Finally, it also contains high levels of arginine. 16
Almond milk was introduced as an alternative to cow milk due to allergies and intolerance to cow milk. 7 The problem with almond milk is that almond is a tree nut and many children with eczema and food allergies will likely be allergic to almond milk. Still, it is a good idea to talk to your physician before you consider starting this milk for your child with eczema and food allergies.
Almond milk is considered to have health benefits, including having a high content of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA). 7
Coconut milk is another plant-based milk. Coconut is considered a fruit rather than nut. Coconut allergies are rare. There is a misconception that people who are allergic to nuts are also allergic to coconuts. 8 Coconut milk is rich in saturated fat, which can cause weight gain. 9 Lauric acid in coconut milk may help lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. 7
Oat milk is another plant-based milk that has good nutritional benefits and contains beta-glucan. This helps improve blood sugar and cholesterol. 12
Oat milk is generally tolerated by people with food allergies because it does not contain soy, dairy, or nuts. It can also be gluten-free. However not all oatmilk is gluten-free as some factories store oats with other grains that have gluten.13
Oat is also used commonly in moisturizing products and oat baths to help soothe sensitive and irritated skin.
Rice milk is actually made from grains. There was concern about rice milk causing nutritional deficiency in protein. 10 These were in unfortified rice milk that were homemade. Unfortified rice milk does not contain calcium or vitamin B-12. Commercially made rice milk are fortified to prevent this problem. Also, rice milk is considered to be a good alternative to those with soy and almond allergies. 11
Soy milk is made from soybeans as the name implies. Soy milk was promoted as a health food because it has low saturated fat and has potassium, and various vitamins including vitamin D and calcium. The problem with soy is that soy is a common allergen to children with eczema and food allergies, even for adults.5 Many children with eczema have soy allergies and vice versa. Fortunately, most children outgrow their soy allergies.6
As you look for the best milk for eczema sufferers, you will find that there are many milk alternative options for children with eczema and food allergies. We discussed several options including soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk, oat milk and hemp milk. Even though soy milk may not be well tolerated by children with eczema, I still included it in the list to shed some light on soy milk. In general, it is considered a health food, but for those with food allergies, it is a no-no. Hopefully this article provides insight on non-dairy milk options for children with atopic dermatitis and food allergies. As always, consult with your doctor first before starting a new food.