Archive for August 20th, 2012

Food Allergies: A Hidden Eczema Trigger





Please welcome Jennifer of  It’s an Itchy Little World and The Eczema Company.  I am truly thankful for Jennifer as it was her blog that ultimately lead me to the Eczema Program at National Jewish Health that changed our lives.  Many of you have asked me to finish the story and provide an update.  It’s coming soon!




When my son was first diagnosed with eczema I took the prescribed medications and dutifully applied them as his pediatrician directed. I knew nothing about eczema. I started researching online and kept stumbling upon something – food triggering eczema. Food? Really? I was intrigued. I asked son’s pediatrician who said it was possible food was related, but not likely as only a very small percentage of children with eczema have food allergies. Knowing what I know now I wonder if by food allergies the physician meant positive reactions to certain foods as determined by blood or skin test only and not by an actual food challenge. Because we did test our son, blood and skin prick, and the only positive results he received was to walnuts in the skin prick test the first time and hazelnuts in the skin prick test the second time. No other allergies were detected.


No relief with medication

Fast-forward two years, our son’s skin continued to worsen despite attempts applying cortisone, which aggravated his skin even more when we’d take mandatory breaks from using it. Since the cortisone hadn’t helped our son, we moved to other solutions trying natural creams and natural therapies with mixed results. In March, we started supplementing my son’s diet with probiotics, omega 3-6-9 oil, a natural immune balancer, and some homeopathy drops – all with the aim of healing him from within.


A food allergy connection?

Although allergy testing had been inconclusive, I wasn’t convinced food had nothing to do with my son’s raging eczema. Next step was an elimination diet – also in March we removed dairy, soy, corn, tomatoes, nuts, shellfish, peas and eggs from his diet. I was especially careful there was no harmful food cross contamination and I learned to read food labels like a pro – making sure everything was made on separate machinery and didn’t “contain traces” of other harmful foods. After one month on the diet there was no change in his skin. What?! I was sure food was the culprit!


Elimination diet success

But, guess what I had missed? Well, missed isn’t being honest – I intentionally hadn’t removed gluten from my son’s diet, which is one of the top eczema food triggers. When he was restricted from so many foods already, I couldn’t bring myself to remove bread and crackers as well, which he adored. I just didn’t have the heart. When I was discussing my disappointment in the diet with a friend they kindly reminded me that I left out gluten. Well of course I did! But they were right, as soon as I removed gluten completely (oats included) from my son’s diet, his skin cleared up within days! We waited a few more days and then started reintroducing each food one at a time, during the food challenge phase, to be sure we could exactly identify which foods were the triggers. My son’s food triggers were easily identified as: dairy, gluten, soy, corn, and some tree nuts.


Identifying all the triggers

I am in daily contact with parents who will tell you the same story – food triggers their children’s eczema. For some the itching and hives is immediate, but the eczema may come days later and for some the eczema is obvious within hours. But in many case, and in ours, food is not the only eczema trigger. Until all the triggers are identified there may be no improvement in the eczema. This means if all the food triggers are found, but detergents and indoor allergies are unknown triggers and are not removed, the eczema may continue to worsen. There can be multiple triggers and they can be very difficult to identify. My son’s eczema is triggered by multiple foods, seasonal allergies, laundry detergents (we use soap nuts now), heat, and stress. When we removed or limited exposure to the triggers and added the natural supplements to his diet, my son’s skin improved by 95% in three months.


While there is a definite link between food allergies and eczema, there are often many more triggers at play. Identify your or your child’s triggers and you should see a vast improvement in the skin.






Jennifer is a work-at-home mother of two. One with eczema, food allergies, and asthma. One with mild eczema. She blogs about her family’s battles with allergies, eczema, and asthma at It’s an Itchy Little World. Jennifer is the founder of The Eczema Company, which offers specialty clothing and natural skin care for children with eczema.