The Independent Pharmacy

Foods That Will Help Prevent An Eczema Flare-Up

Scott McDougall
Scott McDougallMPharmDirector & Registered Manager

Reviewed on 26 Feb 2024

Eczema can be deeply frustrating and challenging, causing flare-ups that leave your skin red, itchy, and uncomfortably irritated. While there’s no cure, there are foods to avoid with eczema that could prevent your flare-ups from acting up.

What you eat plays an important role in managing eczema. Some foods can trigger inflammatory reactions and worsen eczema symptoms. The good news is that an anti-inflammatory diet can strengthen the skin barrier and prevent flare-ups. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish, vitamins in fruits, and healthy fats in oils have health benefits.

Figuring out your list of food triggers and beneficial foods takes trial and error. Keeping a detailed food diary is essential. Write down everything you eat and note any skin reactions over time. This food journal can help identify problem ingredients.

There’s no perfect eczema diet. However, limiting common allergenic foods while increasing anti-inflammatory foods is key. Work closely with your doctor or dietitian to create the right food plan for your body. The proper diet can make a real difference in controlling frustrating eczema outbreaks.

Let’s explore which foods it’s best to avoid with eczema and which foods could help you prevent further flare-ups.

Key Takeaways:

  • Many common foods like dairy, eggs, wheat, soy and nuts contain allergens that frequently aggravate inflammatory skin conditions. Avoiding these personalised trigger foods is critical.
  • Focus your diet on anti-inflammatory superfoods like fatty fish, colourful fruits/veggies, turmeric, and green tea to support skin barrier repair and function.
  • Drink ample fluids, use gentle skincare products, and introduce supplements like fish oil and vitamin D to further calm inflammation pathways.

Foods That May Trigger Eczema

Dairy Products

Milk, cheese, yoghurt, and other dairy foods are some of the most likely triggers for making eczema worse. The proteins they contain can cause allergic reactions and inflammation. Many find significant relief in their skin’s condition by bravely cutting out milk products, though it might not be an easy choice for everyone.

If you still want to enjoy a cold glass of milk with cookies or top your bowl of cereal with something creamy, try using nut- or plant-based milks like almond, coconut, oat, or soy instead. Just watch to see if swapping dairy makes your flare-ups happen less.

Eggs and Soy

Eggs from chickens, ducks, and other birds, plus soy and any products containing these ingredients, are other common triggers tied to eczema attacks. Many children managing chronic eczema also react to eating eggs and soy. For some people, the proteins in these foods seem to cause skin irritation and swelling.

Simple substitute options include replacing eggs called for in recipes with plant-based egg equivalents made from ingredients like flax seeds or chia seeds. Trading out soy milk for other dairy-free choices such as almond, coconut, hemp, or oat milk prevents exposure to this potential trigger as well.

Nuts, Seafood, and Wheat

Lots of eczema patients react to nuts, wheat/gluten, shellfish, and fish. All these foods are common allergens that can really ramp up eczema. Peanuts, tree nuts, and wheat tend to be the worst.

Skipping nuts means checking for nut-based oils, pestos, nut butters, and baked goods with nuts. Try seeds instead. For gluten, choose whole grains like rice, quinoa, buckwheat or gluten-free oats. Lastly, if seafood makes your skin freak out, swap fish and shellfish for eczema-friendly proteins.

Healthy Diet Choices to Prevent Eczema Flare-Ups

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

A number of delicious, nutrient-packed foods have properties that combat inflammation. Filling up on these will help get your eczema under control. Examples include:

  • Fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel are good because they have lots of omega-3, a healthy fat. Try eating two to three fish meals per week.
  • Colourful fruits and veggies like blueberries, strawberries, spinach, and bell peppers. They contain antioxidants and other compounds that tame inflammation.
  • Olive oil, shown in research to calm inflammatory skin conditions like eczema due to its healthy fats called oleic acid. Use real olive oil for cooking, salad dressings and marinades.
  • Turmeric, a vibrant yellow spice loaded with a compound called curcumin that fights inflammation. Combine with black pepper and add to rice, soups, sauces, and more for an anti-inflammatory kick.

Drink Plenty of Fluids

Properly hydrating by drinking sufficient water, herbal teas, and other beverages daily helps skin cells stay optimally hydrated and less likely to become dry and itchy—a common trigger eliciting eczema flares. Most healthcare authorities recommend getting around 6 to 8 tall glasses of plain water, refreshing coconut water, soothing herbal teas or diluted fruit juices per day to support healthy hydration for skin and body cells.

Some hydrating fruit choices, including juicy melon, pineapple, oranges and cucumber, can also contribute to fluid needs, as does broth-based vegetable, chicken or bone soups. Hydrating well with a wide variety of primarily clear liquids is vital—skin depends on water to remain balanced and healthy while preventing flare-inducing dryness.

Supplements

Certain supplements and vitamins like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D have been shown to tamp down inflammation, driving eczema flare-ups.

Fish oil and other omega-3 supplements fund your body’s natural capacity to calm inflammation in a few key ways. Specifically, they block the production of inflammatory messenger molecules, lower levels of inflammatory signalling proteins, and support the integrity of skin cell membranes. Taking a fish oil capsule daily makes it simple to get inflammation-taming omega-3s sourced from salmon and other wild-caught fish.

Many people with eczema don’t have enough vitamin D, which helps keep the body’s defence system working properly. Getting enough vitamin D may help prevent overreactions and powering flare-ups. Sun exposure spurs the body to make vitamin D, but to ensure steadier amounts, take a daily D3 supplement. First, though, ask your doctor to check your levels so you know the right supplemental dose for you.

Note – it’s important to chat with your doctor before starting any new supplement, especially at high doses. While the above show real promise for easing eczema, they can interact with some medications and aren’t suitable for everyone. Follow your healthcare provider’s specific advice about appropriate, safe supplements tailored to your situation.

What to Do When a Diet Falls Short

Medicated Skin Creams

Over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams provide mild relief for some, but prescription steroid ointments offer more robust inflammation-fighting if OTC options fizzle out quickly. Your doctor may suggest stronger topicals like Betnovate Cream containing betamethasone or Eumovate Cream with clobetasone. When used judiciously in the short term, these compounds significantly calm outbreaks so skin can heal.

For severe or long-lasting eczema, doctors might also suggest pills to help with the body’s immune response. Drugs like cyclosporine work by quieting faulty immune reactions so skin irritation and damage can fully resolve. However, due to potential side effects, they require close medical monitoring.

Follow all medication instructions carefully and report any unusual reactions promptly. Often, combining prescription creams or systemic drugs while avoiding triggers and caring for the skin works best. But closely follow your doctor’s guidance on the ideal approach for you.

Gentle Skin Cleansers

Caring for skin daily with gentle cleansers and rich moisturisers helps strengthen its protective barrier, preventing triggers from sparking flare-ups.

Opt for products like Aveeno Cream, E45 Eczema Repair Cream, and CeraVe Moisturising Lotion. Massage liberally into damp skin after bathing to seal in moisture. This prevents water loss, leading to dryness, cracks and openings for irritants to enter and cause inflammation.

Pair with mild cleansers like CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser rather than harsh soaps. Follow cleansing with moisturiser to nourish the skin.

Take the Next Step With The Independent Pharmacy

Take charge of your eczema by considering a nutritious diet and skin care as part of your approach, along with other treatments. Fill out The Independent Pharmacy’s online self-assessment detailing your personal symptoms, history and needs. You’ll get back the science-backed product and medication suggestions matched to what will likely work best for your unique situation.

Our team truly understands eczema’s complexities and has deep expertise in tailoring recommendations based on individual assessments. The convenience of our online platform also makes accessing speciality care smooth and hassle-free through at-home delivery.

Furthermore, continually educate yourself on the latest research and tips for adapting your management plan over time. Reliable organisations like the National Eczema Association provide trustworthy guides as new studies unfold targeting root causes and potential cures.

Remaining proactive, tapping into expertise, and assessing new information – these actions empower you to take control of eczema rather than allowing it to control your comfort and confidence. Leverage resources in the expanding eczema community as part of personalised solutions with The Independent Pharmacy.

FAQs

What fruits reduce eczema?

Some of the best fruits to fight inflammation and support skin barrier health include blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, cherries, oranges, kiwis, grapes, mango, papaya, and cantaloupe. These supply antioxidants along with vitamins A, C, D, and E, which are known to help maintain healthy skin function. Introduce these one at a time, though, to watch closely for any reactions.

Do bananas help eczema?

Yes, bananas are an anti-inflammatory fruit that is very soothing for eczema thanks to their vitamin, mineral and antioxidant content. Banana compounds improve collagen production, moisture retention and immune regulation – all keys to reducing flare triggers for eczema. Enjoy bananas daily, along with other hydrating, nutritious produce.

What is the number one trigger for eczema?

For many battling eczema, the everyday stress of life can, unfortunately, be a leading cause of overwhelming flare-ups. It’s important to be kind to yourself and recognise stress’s impact on your well-being. When stress hormone levels rise, they suppress the immune system, which then misfires and triggers runaway inflammation. Learn coping techniques, take relaxing breaks during your day, get good sleep and set reasonable priorities to keep stress in check. This minimises its impact on your skin condition.

Sources:

Nikolaos Douladiris, Efstratios Vakirlis, and Emilia Vassilopoulou (2023). Atopic Dermatitis and Water: Is There an Optimum Water Intake Level for Improving Atopic Skin? - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9954916/

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