What Diet Improves Eczema?

You’re probably familiar with the discomfort and annoyance of eczema – the itchy, red, and irritated skin that can affect people of all ages. But did you know that what you eat can have an impact on its severity? In this article, we’ll explore the correlation between diet and eczema, and discover which foods can help improve this bothersome skin condition. So, if you’re tired of dealing with flare-ups and are ready to take control of your eczema, read on to find out how you can potentially find relief through dietary changes.

Understanding Eczema

Definition of Eczema

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic skin condition that causes redness, itching, and inflammation. It commonly affects both children and adults, and its symptoms can range from mild to severe. Eczema is not contagious, but it can be a source of discomfort and frustration for those who experience it.

Types of Eczema

There are several types of eczema, each with its own distinct characteristics. The most common types include atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, nummular eczema, and dyshidrotic eczema. These types can vary in terms of the parts of the body they affect and the triggers that exacerbate the symptoms.

Causes of Eczema

The precise cause of eczema remains unknown, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Individuals with a family history of eczema, asthma, or allergies are more likely to develop the condition. Environmental factors such as irritants, allergens, and certain weather conditions can also contribute to flare-ups of eczema.

Symptoms of Eczema

The symptoms of eczema can vary from person to person, but they generally include dry, itchy skin, redness, swelling, and a rash. The affected areas may become cracked, scaly, or oozing, leading to further discomfort. Eczema flare-ups can be triggered by various factors, including stress, environmental irritants, food allergies, and hormonal changes.

The Role of Diet in Eczema Management

Understanding the Link between Diet and Eczema

Diet plays a significant role in managing eczema symptoms. While it may not be a direct cause of eczema, certain foods can trigger or worsen flare-ups. Additionally, a healthy diet can help reduce inflammation, strengthen the immune system, and improve overall skin health, all of which contribute to managing eczema effectively.

Effect of Diet on Eczema Flare-ups

Research has shown a clear correlation between diet and eczema flare-ups. Consuming certain trigger foods can lead to increased inflammation in the body, which can exacerbate eczema symptoms. By identifying and eliminating these trigger foods, it is possible to reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups.

Impact of Specific Foods on Eczema Symptoms

While certain foods can trigger eczema flare-ups, others have been found to have a positive effect on managing the condition. Anti-inflammatory foods rich in antioxidants, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, can help reduce inflammation and improve skin health. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts have also been shown to alleviate eczema symptoms.

Recommended Diet for Eczema

Introduction to Elimination Diet

An elimination diet is often recommended for individuals with eczema to identify and eliminate trigger foods that worsen symptoms. This involves removing certain foods from the diet for a period of time and then reintroducing them one by one to determine which ones are causing flare-ups.

The Elimination Diet Process

The elimination diet process starts with removing common trigger foods such as dairy, gluten, soy, and eggs from the diet. This elimination phase typically lasts for several weeks to allow the body to reset and for symptoms to improve. Once the symptoms have subsided, foods are reintroduced one at a time to identify specific triggers.

Foods to Avoid during Elimination Diet

During the elimination phase of the diet, it is important to avoid foods that are known to commonly trigger eczema. These may include dairy products, gluten-containing grains, processed foods, soy, eggs, and certain fruits and vegetables. It is advisable to work with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian to ensure adequate nutrition during this elimination period.

Common Triggers for Eczema

While triggers may vary from person to person, several foods have been identified as common triggers for eczema. These include dairy products, wheat, soy, eggs, seafood, nuts, and citrus fruits. It is essential to identify individual trigger foods through an elimination diet or with the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Anti-inflammatory Foods for Eczema

Including anti-inflammatory foods in the diet can help manage eczema symptoms effectively. These foods include leafy greens, berries, turmeric, ginger, fatty fish, avocados, and olive oil. These foods help reduce inflammation in the body, promote skin healing, and support overall well-being.

Identifying Food Triggers

Food Allergy and Eczema Link

Food allergies can often be linked to eczema, particularly in children. Many individuals with eczema may have sensitivities or allergies to certain foods, which can trigger or worsen their symptoms. Identifying and avoiding these trigger foods can significantly improve eczema management.

Common Food Allergens

Common food allergens that may trigger eczema include dairy products, eggs, soy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, and fish. It is important to conduct allergy tests to identify specific allergens that may be causing or contributing to eczema symptoms.

Testing for Food Allergies

Testing for food allergies can be done through various methods, including skin prick tests, blood tests, and elimination diets. These tests can help identify specific allergens that should be avoided to minimize eczema flare-ups. It is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or an allergist for appropriate testing and evaluation.

Keeping a Food Diary

Keeping a food diary can be highly beneficial in identifying food triggers for eczema. By recording daily food intake and noting any changes in eczema symptoms, individuals can pinpoint specific foods that may be causing flare-ups. This information is essential when working with a healthcare professional to create an effective eczema management plan.

Foods to Include in the Eczema Diet

Essential Nutrients for Eczema Management

The eczema diet should focus on providing essential nutrients that support skin health and reduce inflammation. This includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. These nutrient-rich foods help strengthen the immune system, nourish the skin, and promote overall well-being.

Anti-inflammatory Foods

Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into the eczema diet can be highly beneficial. Foods such as leafy greens, berries, turmeric, ginger, garlic, and green tea have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce eczema symptoms and support skin healing.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for skin health and can help alleviate eczema symptoms. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel, as well as flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. Adding these foods to the diet can help reduce inflammation and improve skin hydration.

Probiotics for Eczema

Probiotics, also known as “good bacteria,” can contribute to gut health and help reduce inflammation throughout the body, including the skin. Adding probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi to the diet can support a healthy gut microbiome and potentially improve eczema symptoms.

The Role of Gut Health

Gut-Immune System Connection

The gut and the immune system are closely interconnected. A healthy gut microbiome plays a crucial role in immune function and overall health. Imbalances in gut bacteria can contribute to inflammatory conditions such as eczema. Nurturing gut health through diet and lifestyle choices can positively impact eczema management.

The Gut Microbiome and Eczema

Studies have shown that individuals with eczema often have imbalances in their gut microbiome. Restoring and maintaining a healthy balance of gut bacteria can help reduce inflammation and support overall skin health. This can be achieved through the consumption of probiotics and prebiotics, which feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Probiotics and Gut Health

Probiotics are live beneficial bacteria that can help restore a healthy gut microbiome. They can be consumed through fermented foods or as supplements. Probiotics promote a healthy immune response and reduce inflammation, which can positively impact eczema symptoms.

Other Dietary Considerations

Hydration and Eczema

Proper hydration is essential for maintaining skin health and managing eczema. Drinking an adequate amount of water helps keep the skin hydrated from within, reducing dryness and itchiness. It is recommended to drink at least eight glasses of water per day and increase intake during hot weather or when engaging in physical activity.

The Importance of Fiber

A diet rich in fiber has numerous benefits for overall health, including eczema management. High-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes help regulate digestion, promote gut health, and support a healthy immune system. These dietary fibers also provide nourishment to the beneficial gut bacteria, contributing to a balanced gut microbiome.

Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

In some cases, vitamin and mineral supplements may be recommended to support eczema management. Certain nutrients, such as vitamin D, vitamin E, zinc, and selenium, have been found to have potential benefits for skin health and immune function. However, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any supplements.

Benefits of a Healthy Diet for Eczema

Reduced Eczema Severity

Following a healthy diet that eliminates trigger foods and focuses on anti-inflammatory options can lead to a significant reduction in eczema severity. By reducing inflammation in the body, improving gut health, and nourishing the skin with essential nutrients, individuals can experience fewer and milder eczema flare-ups.

Enhanced Skin Barrier Function

Eczema damages the skin barrier, making it more vulnerable to irritants and allergens. A healthy diet rich in essential nutrients can help strengthen the skin barrier, improving its ability to protect against external factors that can trigger flare-ups. This leads to healthier skin and reduced eczema symptoms.

Improved Overall Well-being

A holistic approach to managing eczema through diet not only benefits the skin but also enhances overall well-being. A healthy, balanced diet that nourishes the body with essential nutrients can boost energy levels, support mental health, and improve quality of life. Additionally, adopting healthy lifestyle habits, such as regular exercise and stress management, can complement the benefits of dietary changes.

Combining Diet with Traditional Treatments

Consulting a Healthcare Professional

While diet can play a significant role in managing eczema, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional for comprehensive care. They can provide guidance on dietary changes, monitor progress, and ensure that any underlying medical conditions are addressed concurrently.

Medications and Topical Treatments

For severe or persistent eczema, medications and topical treatments may be prescribed by a healthcare professional. These treatments can help manage symptoms, reduce inflammation, and alleviate discomfort. Combining an appropriate medication regimen with a healthy diet can enhance the effectiveness of eczema management.

Supportive Therapies

In addition to diet and traditional treatments, certain supportive therapies can also benefit individuals with eczema. These may include moisturizing the skin regularly, avoiding harsh soaps and detergents, using gentle skincare products, managing stress levels, and avoiding known triggers. These practices can help minimize irritation and promote overall skin health.


Understanding the role of diet in eczema management is crucial for individuals looking to alleviate their symptoms and improve their quality of life. By following a recommended diet that eliminates trigger foods, incorporates anti-inflammatory options, supports gut health, and provides essential nutrients, individuals can experience reduced eczema severity, enhanced skin barrier function, and improved overall well-being. Combining dietary changes with traditional treatments and adopting supportive therapies can further enhance the effectiveness of eczema management. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance and support on managing eczema.