The link between food intolerance and eczema.

Here is a summary of the researched links between food and eczema.

Common food allergy culprits.

Hanifin (4) found that for eczema sufferers the most common food culprits were eggs, milk, peanuts, seafood, wheat, and soya.Burks et al (2) evaluated 46 patients with atopic dermatitis for food hypersensitivity. Sixty-one percent had a reaction to one of the foods tested. Egg, milk and peanut were the most common culprits. A further study by Burks et al (3), of 165 patients found that 60 percent had at least one positive prick skin test. Milk, eggs, peanut, soya, wheat, cod/catfish and cashew accounted for eighty-nine percent of the positive challenges.

Children with eczema.

Sloper et al (7), examined the role of foods in the exacerbation of atopic eczema in children. The children’s eczema improved in 49 of 66 (74%) cases after eliminating cows’ milk, eggs and various other foods.

Soutter et al (8), found that in 68 children with eczema, 79% had food allergies before the age of 10 months and 23% at 7 years of age. In a separate study of people with eczema, food chemical intolerance reactions were shown to irritate the rash in 47%.

Van Bever et al (9) in a study of 25 children with severe atopic dermatitis found the condition linked to reactions to eggs, wheat, milk, soya, and various additives including tartrazine, sodium benzoate, sodium glutamate and sodium metabisulphite. They concluded that some foods, food additives, tyramine, and acetylsalicylic acid, can cause positive double-blind placebo-controlled challenges in children with severe atopic dermatitis. Sampson and McCaskill (6) studied 113 children with severe atopic dermatitis. Fifty-six percent responded positively. Once again, egg, milk and peanut were the most common culprits. 

Food additives.

Veien et al (10), carried out a randomised, placebo-controlled oral challenge with food additives (preservatives and food colourings) on 101 individuals with eczema of undetermined origin but who suspected that the intake of certain foods aggravated their dermatitis. Thirty seven reacted to one or more of the food additives but not to a placebo. A further study by the same team (11), found improvement in the dermatitis of 262 of 675 patients who followed a restrictive diet for approximately one month. Sensitivities included metal salts, balsams, classic food allergens and food additives. A follow-up study was carried out 1-3 years later, showed that 144 ( 206 responded to the questionnaire) there was long-term improvement in their dermatitis.



Hoffman (5) et al found that 48% of those studied with eczema tested positive for an allergy to the milk protein a-lactatalbumin.


  • Source: Sharla Race author of the E-book ‘Change your diet and change your life’.
  • (1) Atherton DJ Diagnosis and management of skin disorders caused by food allergy. Ann Allergy 1984 Dec; 53(6 Pt 2):623-8
  • (2) Burks AW, Mallory SB, Williams LW, Shirrell MA. Atopic dermatitis: clinical relevance of food hypersensitivity reactions. J Pediatr 1988 Sep; 113
  • (3):447-51 (3) Burks AW, James JM, Hiegel A, Wilson G, Wheeler JG, Jones SM, Zuerlein N. Atopic dermatitis and food hypersensitivity reactions. J Pediatr 1998 Jan; 132(1):132-6
  • (4) Hanifin J M et al. Diet and atopic dermatitis. Western J of Med 151:6, 1989
  • (5) Hoffman D, Yamamato F, Ceiler B, Haddad Z. Specific IgE anribbdn~s in atopic eczema. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1975 (55) 256-67
  • (6) Sampson HA, McCaskill CC. Food hypersensitivity and atopic dermatitis: evaluation of 113 patients. J Pediatr 1985 Nov; 107(5):669-75
  • (7) Sloper KS, Wadsworth J, Brostoff J. Children with atopic eczema. I: Clinical response to food elimination and subsequent double-blind food challenge. Q J Med 1991 Aug; 80 (292): 677-93
  • (8) Soutter V, Swain A, Loblay, R. Food allergy and food intolerance in young children Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1995) Volume 4, Number 3: 329
  • (9) Van Bever HP, Docx M, Stevens WJ. Food and food additives in severe atopic dermatitis. Allergy 1989 Nov; 44(8):588-94
  • (10) Veien NK, Hattel T, Justesen O, Norholm A. Oral challenge with food additives. Contact Dermatitis 1987 Aug; 17(2):100-3
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