Are you part of the 23% of the world’s population who has some form of eczema? If you’re not, then it is likely you know someone who is. Surely, if you were a lifeguard in a summer day camp, then you definitely saw eczema on campers’ skin. Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s start with the basics- what is eczema? Eczema is a general term that describes a group of medical conditions that cause red, inflamed, and itchy skin. The most common type of eczema is called atopic dermatitis, and it is caused by a malfunction in the immune system and problems with the skin barrier. Both children and adults are impacted by atopic dermatitis. Mild eczema appears as patches of dry and flaky skin whereas more severe forms can appear as irritated and red patches. Areas on the skin in which eczema is common are in the body’s “bends”- inside elbows, armpits, and on the back of the knees; nonetheless, eczema can appear anywhere. The exact cause of eczema is unknown; however, we do know what may trigger it. Triggers may include dry skin, irritants like household cleaners and cigarette smoke, stress, hot and sweaty environments, and allergens such as seasonal pollen, dust mites and mold. Those affected have periods of remission and reappearance… just when you thought you rid yourself of the rashes, they manage to sneak up on you again. Eczema is not confined to just the summer or winter; it can occur year-round.
Individuals who have eczema should be mindful to not scratch the site, as scratching may make symptoms worse and causes bleeding. It is recommended to moisturize the skin at least twice a day, and to even take oatmeal baths. Of course, food may influence the condition as well.
Foods which may aggravate the condition include:
Foods/ supplements which may help calm symptoms down include:
- Fatty fish (salmon and herring) or fish oil supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids which may help support healthy levels of inflammation
- Quercetin, a powerful antioxidant that may have antihistamine properties. Good sources include: Apples, blueberries, cherries, broccoli, spinach and kale
- Probiotics contain beneficial bacteria that may help support a strong immune system, which may in turn may help reduce flare-ups. Good sources include:
- Sourdough bread
- Soft cheeses
- Probiotic supplements
Eczema is very much based on the individual. If you notice that your eczema flares up when you’re stressed, then engage in calming activities! If you notice that your eczema flares up when you eat a particular food, then cut that out of your diet! And remember, you are not alone.
(1) Ask Tufts Experts. (2008). Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, 26(6), 7. Retrieved from http://proxy.wexler.hunter.cuny.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=34102918&site=ehost-live
(2) Atopic dermatitis (eczema). (2018, March 06). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/atopic-dermatitis-eczema/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353279
(3) Eczema Causes & Triggers. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/causes-and-triggers-of-eczema/
(4) Eczema Pictures: What Atopic Dermatitis Looks Like, Cradle Cap, How to Treat It. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/eczema/ss/slideshow-eczema-overview
(5) Eczema Prevalence, Quality of Life and Economic Impact. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://nationaleczema.org/research/eczema-facts/
(6) Harvard Health Publishing. (n.d.). Get relief from eczema. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/get-relief-from-eczema
(7) Solomon, I., Ilie, M. A., Draghici, C., Voiculescu, V. M., Căruntu, C., Boda, D., & Zurac, S. (2019). The impact of lifestyle factors on evolution of atopic dermatitis: An alternative approach. Experimental & Therapeutic Medicine, 17(2), 1078–1084. Retrieved from http://proxy.wexler.hunter.cuny.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=134111826&site=ehost-live
(8) Whelan, C. (n.d.). How To Create An Eczema-Friendly Diet. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/skin-disorders/eczema-diet#foods-to-eat