The day we ended up in hospital with J’s eczema when he was 3 months old, I cried. Not because I was upset but because I was relieved. I was desperate for some help to stop the itching, crying, discomfort and sleepless nights. The eczema nurse described him as having ‘little red man syndrome’ as his whole body looked like it had been sunburned. Yet still we weren’t to about the link between food allergies and eczema.
We did get some help and we got his eczema under control but only by using strong steroids. It wasn’t until months later that we realised his severe symptoms had been caused by food allergies. Now, as a thriving 2 year old, you would have no idea he ever had eczema. Once we discovered all his allergies, it disappeared.
This time round, with Baby A, I was much more informed and aware of the link between food allergies and eczema. So when her skin started following the same pattern I eliminated offending foods and her eczema is under control.
Food allergies and eczema: the link
Food allergies do not cause eczema. Eczema is a dry skin condition where the skin gets red and raw when it can’t retain moisture. However, food allergies can trigger eczema and cause the skin to flare up. This can be through eating the foods directly or the proteins being passed to a baby through breastmilk.
Experts estimate that eczema is linked to food allergies in only around one third of cases.
How can you manage food allergies and eczema?
If you think that food allergies may be a cause of eczema then it is important to keep a food diary and note down the foods that have been eaten and the symptoms. The time between ingestion and flare ups can vary but for us it is only a few hours. If the reactions are to a food you are eating all the time then it may be more difficult to see a pattern and it is a good idea to start with common allergens.
Milk is the most common culprit and the first to try cutting out. This often has the biggest impact. The next most common are soya and egg, although remember it can be anything – both my children react strongly to garlic!
It is not a good idea to cut out food groups unnecessarily so if you don’t see any improvements in the skin within a couple of weeks then try and slowly reintroduce it.
Talk to your GP or health visitor about your concerns and you can find more help and information on