Food allergy and sensitivity can cause eczema to flare up. Knowing what foods to consume and avoid can be crucial to avoid a flare-up. In this article, I have compiled the ultimate allergy food list for eczema. I hope this helps you better plan meals for your child with eczema.
There are affiliate links in this post. Read my disclosure policy to learn more.
List of Common Food Allergens
These are the top 8 allergens and most people agree they cause eczema to flare:
- Cow’s milk
- Tree nuts
This is a list of foods that cause eczema in babies.
Based on a survey of children with eczema, the foods below also caused eczema flare-ups:
- Sesame seeds
- Citric fruits
Here are some foods that most people state does NOT cause flare ups:
- Green bean
- Green peas
- Sweet potato
- Peeled Pears
- Rice/rice crackers
Of course, this is not a comprehensive list. I will update as time goes on. There will be people who state that foods in the flare-up group will not cause flare-up and vice versa. This is not a sure thing. So, always consult your doctor, but I hope this gives you an idea of where to start.
The Eczema Diet by Karen Fischer
This article is inspired by Karen Fischer’s book, “The Eczema Diet.”
She is an Australian nutritionist. She talks about foods that are high in certain chemicals that should be avoided or reduced such as salicylates, nitrates, sulfite, and food coloring. These can all cause eczema to flare. There is also another chemical called histamines, which can also contribute to eczema.
I found Karen’s book to be a good start when I was figuring what foods to give my child. I especially enjoy her “Tarzan juice”, which is celery juice and pears. It’s delicious and my children consume it readily.
What are salicylates?
The history of salicylates goes way back to ancient times. It was extracted from willow bark which was known to reduce fevers. You may have heard of salicylates being related to aspirin (when your body breaks down aspirin, it becomes salicylates). Ok, enough trivia.
Salicylates are known to cause hives and asthma to flare. Given that asthma, allergies and eczema are related, the idea started that there may be certain foods that can also cause eczema to flare.
Salicylates in food were studied by Dr. Swain and Dutton and they tested multiple foods and measured the levels of this chemical methodically (1).
What about histamines?
Histamines are chemicals (neurotransmitters) responsible for sending messages to different organs in the body. They are stored in mast cells and released as part of an immune response. This usually happens when the body encounters an allergen. People experience symptoms of sneezing, flush, headache, diarrhea, and sometimes shortness of breath. Certain foods contain histamines which increases your histamine level after consuming these foods.
It’s not ALWAYS clear cut
Karen’s book is a good place to start to give you clues about what food can cause eczema to flare up. Sometimes, people will say foods that do NOT cause eczema flareups will cause flares up for others. Even various medical websites, articles, books show conflicting information about foods and their potential reactions. This can be very distressing.
For example, a quick Google search shows foods that are permissible include:
- Omega 3, anti-inflammatory food, probiotic foods
Foods that can cause flare ups:
- Citrus fruits, dairy, eggs, gluten, wheat, soy, tomatoes, nuts,
Foods that have probiotics and thus beneficial for eczema include:
- yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, kombucha.
Kimchi is considered a probiotic that supplies good bacteria to the colon and promotes gut health, however, some studies have shown that it has histamines that can cause eczema to flare. (2)
According to the study below, these foods have high histamine content that can cause eczema to flare:
The point is that the only way to really know if your child will react to a certain food is to try out. However, it is best to avoid foods that are commonly known to cause flare-ups initially, such as the foods described in this article. Always talk to your doctor first before starting new food groups.
The foods listed above are the common foods that have caused eczema to flare up in my patients. Unfortunately, it’s not clear cut. Some foods will be perfectly fine for one child and then cause a massive flare-up in another. Ultimately, it’s trial and error. I hope that this article and Karen Fisher’s book can at least put you on the right path to finding good health for your eczema child.
What about you? Have you found a pattern of foods that cause flare-ups?