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If you have eczema, you want to do all you can to try to stop the irritation and itching it can cause. So you may be eager to try eczema diets promoted in books or online.

How helpful are these eczema diets? Research about diet and eczema is conflicting.

This article will review what experts recommend when it comes to diet and eczema.

Diet and Eczema in Children

"Some young children have eczema caused by allergic reactions to certain foods," says Donald V. Belsito, MD, a professor of clinical dermatology at Columbia University in New York. "But after age 3 or 4, eczema caused by foods is very rare. Food can cause hives and other skin reactions, but not eczema." 

If you are concerned that a food allergy is playing a role in your child’s eczema, talk with your doctor. Although you can have your child checked for food allergies, the results are often not reliable.

"Positive results [to food allergy tests] are very common, even if your child doesn’t have an allergy," says Lawrence Eichenfield, MD, chief of Pediatric Dermatology at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. "So while it’s sometimes helpful for children with severe eczema, I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone."

Diet and Eczema in Adults

Although some adults report having worse eczema symptoms after eating certain foods, no studies have been able to establish a link.

"There is no science linking certain foods with flare-ups. But it can be an individual thing," says Andrea Cambio MD, FAAD. Cambio is the medical director of Cambio Dermatology in southwest Florida. "For example, if a patient reports eating chocolate makes her eczema worse, then I would advise her to cut down or eliminate chocolate from her diet." Be sure to talk to your health care provider before eliminating any food from your diet, and before going on a special diet.

Cambio cautions that it is not always easy to figure out what’s making eczema flare. "Because we are exposed to many potential triggers in a given day, it is often hard to tell. Sometimes, it may seem to the patient that certain foods are making eczema symptoms worse. But then we find that something else, like stress, is actually the culprit."