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  • Your dermatology provider prescribes your formula

  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

What to eat and avoid in an eczema diet, according to experts

Some of the best foods to eat—and avoid—to help calm this chronic skin condition.

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Curology Team
Nov 30, 2022 · 6 min read

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We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.
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Here at Curology, we currently focus on the diagnosis and treatment of acne, rosacea, and anti-aging concerns. We do not treat eczema. This article is for information purposes only.

If you have eczema, you know how unpleasant this chronic skin condition can be. A type of atopic dermatitis that can result in rashes and itching, eczema affects people of all ages. No one knows exactly what causes eczema, but environmental and hereditary factors may be at play when it comes to whether or not you develop it. What we do know is that specific triggers, including certain foods, can cause symptoms to appear. That means identifying and avoiding these triggers may help prevent flare-ups from happening in the first place.¹ Enter: the eczema diet.

About the eczema diet 

There’s no denying a balanced diet is fundamental to your health, but for many people with eczema, caring for what they eat is all the more important because they also frequently experience food allergies and intolerances. Eating certain foods doesn’t cause eczema directly, but certain foods may lead to flare-ups. Also, because everyone’s body is different, what causes flare-ups for one person may not for another. If you have eczema, learning about your unique dietary needs and how the food you eat can influence your symptoms is key. 

What you should eat 

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to eating when you have eczema, but in general a well-balanced diet rich in antioxidants and foods that help eczema can include lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, and veggies. The following plans focus on eating whole foods and healthy fats and minimizing processed foods and sugar. This may help manage and reduce your eczema symptoms. Whatever you try, always remember to stay hydrated. Proper hydration helps keep your body functioning as efficiently as possible, which may, in turn, may help reduce eczema symptoms. 

The following diets are not proven to help eczema, but they are generally well-balanced and overall healthy. So, in theory, they might help some people avoid flare-ups. 

The anti-inflammatory diet

An anti-inflammatory diet, which emphasizes vegetables and fish and limits red meat, dairy, flour, and sugar, may help relieve eczema. This diet focuses on removing inflammatory foods from the menu, replacing them with fiber-rich options and healthy fats. Whole grains are a yes, while processed foods are a no. 

The Mediterranean diet

You’ve probably heard of this one before! Popular among medical professionals, the Mediterranean diet has made a name for itself because it favors veggies, fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, olive oil, grains, nuts, and legumes. Dessert and red meat are very limited. Red wine is optional but encouraged (in moderation, of course). 

smoked-salmon-caviar-luxury

The Ayurvedic diet

The Ayurvedic diet’s focus on unprocessed foods, fruits, veggies, legumes, and whole grains is similar to the Mediterranean diet. It’s easy to try. Avoid processed foods and try adding anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric, ginger, coriander, cumin, and cinnamon to your favorite healthy dishes. 

The elimination diet

The elimination diet for eczema helps you narrow down the foods that trigger your symptoms. To do this, remove certain foods from your diet and slowly re-introduce them to see which triggers a flare-up. This is recommended for individuals with diagnosed food allergies. To follow this diet correctly, specific foods or food groups must be removed for at least three days. Elimination diets are not recommended for children. 

Gluten-free diet

Gluten is found in a lot of foods, from bread and brown rice to baked goods, soy sauce, and salad dressing. Many people are sensitive to gluten, and switching to a gluten-free diet may help skin issues like eczema. 

What you may want to avoid

What you eat may not directly cause your eczema, but it can exacerbate it. Certain foods may increase symptoms, and some of these foods are common food allergens. Foods that trigger eczema symptoms may include: 

  • Dairy 

  • Eggs

  • Soy

Eczema foods to avoid may also include preserved foods, foods high in artificial ingredients, foods high in trans fats, and foods high in sugar. These may trigger flare-ups. Sugary foods like cake, candy, soda, and even fast food, can cause your insulin levels to spike, which leads to inflammation that may cause a worsening in symptoms. 

Dietary supplements for eczema 

While researchers are looking at several dietary supplements that may treat eczema, currently, there’s limited evidence to support their effectiveness. Limited studies have been conducted on the impact of vitamin D on eczema, and the conflicting results suggest that more research is needed in particular subsets of patients. Fish oil is another potentially helpful supplement, but more research is needed before scientists can prove its efficacy. Several studies on evening primrose oil and borage seed oil on eczema have shown improvement similar to a placebo. Generally speaking, medical providers currently recommend neither to help with eczema.²

Probiotic and prebiotic supplements have shown some promise in helping reduce eczema symptoms, but further research is needed (including which types of probiotics and prebiotics are best for eczema and what the optimal dosing may be).³ Some evidence suggests that supplementing with probiotics pre- and postnatally decreases the risk of eczema.⁴

Other eczema triggers

Eczema’s red, itchy rash isn’t just triggered by food—there are many other reasons why your symptoms may flare up. Identifying and managing your triggers can help you control your symptoms and keep you feeling more comfortable. The following are common triggers, from emotions to the environment, and some of them may surprise you: 

Airborne allergens

When inhaled, allergens like pollen, pet dander, mold, and dust can impact your immune system, which can affect your eczema symptoms. To reduce your exposure to these allergens, try the following: 

  • Clean your home regularly 

  • Wash your linens and bed sheets regularly

  • Avoid carpet 

  • Avoid pets 

  • Use a humidifier 

  • Use an air conditioner instead of opening the windows

  • Avoid smoke exposure 

Not sure what you’re allergic to? Ask your medical provider to perform an allergy test. 

Dry skin

Dry skin caused by hot water, a dry environment, or insufficiently applied moisturizer can contribute to eczema flare-ups. To avoid this, keep your skin hydrated with an gentle fragrance-free lotion. If you find the air is dry at home or the office, try setting up a humidifier.

Emotional stress

Stress can trigger your immune system and lead to skin barrier disfunction, which can make eczema worse. To help your symptoms, control stress with activities like meditation, yoga, walking, and your favorite hobbies. Another helpful way to beat stress? Get enough sleep. Aim for about eight hours every night (or as close to it as possible), and keep potential distractors (like phones and tablets) out of the bedroom.

Irritants

Coming in contact with irritants like dyes, fragrances, and chemicals can trigger eczema. Be sure to consider the ingredients of the products you use to clean yourself and your home, and pick products that are free of irritants to lessen the chances of reacting. Products with irritants can include everything from your all-purpose cleaner to your laundry detergent, hand soap, body wash, shampoo, and candles. Chlorine, metals like nickel, and even some fabrics can also trigger symptoms. Another word of advice: Wash your new clothes before wearing them! 

Give Curology custom skincare a try

If you think you’re experiencing a skin condition like eczema, it’s important to seek help from an in-person medical provider for a proper diagnosis. But if you have concerns with other common skin conditions, like acne, signs of aging, hyperpigmentation, oily skin, or rosacea, we’re here for you! Curology can help you take the guesswork out of treating these common skin concerns. 

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Getting started is easy. Just answer a few questions and snap some selfies to help us get to know your skin. If Curology is right for you, we’ll pair you with one of our in-house dermatology providers. They’ll prescribe you a personalized prescription formula with a mix of ingredients for your specific skin concerns. Our line of skincare products is non-comedogenic, dye-free, paraben-free, and hypoallergenic—designed by dermatologists for all skin types.

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FAQs

What about the eczema diet?

There’s no denying a balanced diet is fundamental to your health, but for many people with eczema, caring for what they eat is all the more important because they also frequently experience food allergies and intolerances.

What should you eat?

The following diets are not proven to help eczema, but they are generally well-balanced and overall healthy. So, in theory, they might help some people avoid flare-ups. 

  • The anti-inflammatory diet

  • The Mediterranean diet

  • The Ayurvedic diet

  • The elimination diet

  • Gluten-free diet

What may you want to avoid?

Foods that trigger eczema symptoms may include: 

  • Dairy 

  • Eggs

  • Soy

Are there other eczema triggers?

  • Airborne allergens

  • Dry skin

  • Emotional stress

  • Irritants

• • •

P.S. We did the homework so you don’t have to:

  1. Katta, R., Schlichte, M., Diet and dermatitis: food triggers. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. (2014).

  2. Schlichte, MJ., et al. Diet and eczema: a review of dietary supplements for the treatment of atopic dermatitis. Dermatol Pract Concept. (2016).

  3. Schlichte, MJ., et al. Diet and eczema: a review of dietary supplements for the treatment of atopic dermatitis. Ibid. 

  4. Bronsnick, T., Diet in dermatology. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. (2014). 

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• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Meredith Hartle, DO

Meredith Hartle, DO

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