Eczema and food have a sometimes confusing and complicated relationship. Foods do not cause eczema, but sometimes might trigger an eczema flare up and once confirmed by your doctor should be avoided. Other foods however might improve your child’s eczema symptoms. Encouraging an eczema friendly diet for your child might help with your overall eczema management. Remember that foods which are thought to be eczema friendly should not be eaten by people who are allergic to them and always speak to your doctor before deciding on any significant changes to your child’s diet.
I can’t talk about managing eczema without mentioning the link between eczema and food allergies. Some toddlers with eczema will be allergic to some foods. The most common foods which trigger eczema symptoms in toddlers are cows’ milk, eggs, soya, wheat, fish and nuts. This doesn’t mean the food causes eczema, just that it is likely your toddler may also have a food allergy which can in some cases make eczema symptoms worse. In our family my eldest toddler has a food allergy to yeast – so no vegemite in our house! My younger toddler has food allergies to pineapple and eggs.
Each of my toddlers react differently to their food allergies. The eldest has a delayed food allergy – after about 6 hours of eating the food he is allergic to, his itching and eczema worsens. Whereas the youngest experiences immediate food allergies and her symptoms are more obvious. Her symptoms usually occur within two hours of eating the food she is allergic to – what we see is redness, swelling and irritation around her mouth and a little red lumps which form a rash on her skin (uticaria).