If your child is struggling with eczema, you’ve probably thought a lot about what goes on their skin. From lotions and bath products to laundry detergents and clothing fabrics, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to eczema triggers. But when it comes to child and baby eczema, food triggers are also important to understand.
So, is what your child (or you, if you’re breastfeeding) eating making their eczema worse? First, let’s explore what eczema actually is, and how we can distinguish it from other common skin conditions.
What is Eczema?
Eczema is a very common skin condition that affects most people at some point in their life. In fact, 80% of babies will have a bout of eczema in their first year of life.
Unfortunately Harvey, my son, has not escaped this statistic. By the age of 3 months he has a decent amount of eczema caused by eggs and dairy. I treated it by determining his personal baby eczema food triggers, removing the offending foods from his diet, and applying our Skin Conditions Cream.
There was much pressure from my doctor to use a cortisone cream, but I was confident in our natural treatment approach and stayed the course and am happy to report that it is fully resolved! You can read his full eczema story here.
Eczema typically presents as a red, scaly, dry and itchy rash that likes to appear on the creases of the elbows, the backs of the knees, behind the ears, on the face, on the hands and on the belly in babies. It is a form of chronic skin inflammation.
The Root Cause of Eczema
Eczema is often confused with other common baby skin conditions, such as baby acne or even an allergic reaction. But unlike baby eczema, food allergy skin reactions generally do not last long (assuming the food is not consumed again).
Still, even though eczema is a skin condition, it often can not be solved by topical treatment alone. And while it’s not exactly the same as a food allergy, the root cause is often a food that is being consumed, and it is typical to see eczema start in babies around the time that solid foods are being introduced.
Additionally, if mom is breastfeeding, and the baby has eczema before solids are introduced, then mom needs to look at what she is eating that could be baby eczema food triggers.
So what are these possible trigger foods for baby eczema? Review the list below and explore how to eliminate them from the diet to assess their impact on your child’s eczema.
5 Baby Eczema Food Triggers That Can Make Symptoms Worse
1) Dairy- The proteins found in dairy (casein and whey) are the triggers for eczema. It is not an issue with lactose (as in a lactose intolerance) and eating lactose free dairy does not help. Similarly, contrary to popular belief, eating cooked dairy is still a trigger for eczema. The proteins do not get broken down enough in the cooking process to be significant. Elimination of all dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt, butter) for 3 weeks should lead to improvement if dairy is a baby eczema food trigger for your child.
2) Eggs- Are a very common food sensitivity in children under 4 and are associated with eczema. Eliminate egg whites and yolks for 3 weeks to determine if eggs could be a food trigger for your child’s eczema. Eggs are often hidden in a lot of foods, so while doing an egg elimination it is imperative to read all package labels to look for hidden sources.
3) Gluten- Is one of the most common baby eczema food triggers, but it tends to be an even bigger trigger in adults. Another sign of gluten sensitivity is having keratosis pilaris. Keratosis pilaris is characterized by having bumpy skin on the backs of the upper arms (AKA chicken skin). If you or your child has this and has eczema, there is a good chance that gluten is the offending food.
4) Tomatoes- Can be very inflammatory to young children’s skin, especially if eaten frequently. Tomatoes can also cause an “acid diaper rash.” I often see this in my patients in the summer when the vines are full of juicy, ripe tomatoes.
5) Citrus- Has similar effects as tomatoes in young children, especially oranges. To determine if citrus fruits are one of your child’s baby eczema food triggers, remove all of them from your child’s diet for at least 3 weeks.
Foods That Can Help Soothe Eczema
Of course, not all foods function as baby eczema food triggers. In fact, there are foods you can add to your child’s diet that can actually help soothe their skin.
Some of these foods include:
1) Foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids - These include foods like salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, sardines and herring. These foods can help soothe dry skin from the inside out!
2) Foods that contain pre and probiotics - Some of the best for kids include yogurt with live and active cultures and fermented foods like kefir and sauerkraut. You can also use a probiotic supplement.
3) Fruits and vegetables that fight inflammation - Produce that is high in flavonoids can help combat inflammation in the body and have been found to help improve skin health. Some fruits and vegetables that may help include apples, broccoli, cherries, blueberries, spinach and kale.
4) Foods that support skin repair and protection - These include green onions (which are high in Vitamin C), beef or chicken broth (rich in glycine, a skin-repairing amino acid) and oats (which contain Vitamin e and silica).
Go Beyond Baby Eczema Food Triggers
Watching your child suffer from eczema is never easy. While determining your child’s trigger foods can have a big impact on the health of their skin, there can be many root causes for eczema.
Are you ready to start treating baby eczema naturally? Check out the Eczema Eraser Workshop, a 2.5 hour training to help you understand the causes of eczema and determine the natural eczema remedies that can work for your child.
Any questions or comments, post below and I will be happy to address them.
Dr Alexis practice in Kanata, and online, and is currently accepting new patients. Click here to book your appointment
Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended health benefits.