Diet may worsen eczema. It is more likely to affect children than teenagers or adults. If you suspect you or your child has a specific food allergy discuss
this with your doctor to start the process of investigation.
Exclusion diets are commonly used to find out if a person is allergic to a food substance.
This is done by initially restricting the diet to a few foods, then gradually introducing different foods
one by one to see if there are any effects on the skin. Supplements are given to replace any nutrients that could be missing in the restricted diet. If the eczema
improves following the removal of the food then it may be introduced later to see if the eczema disimproves again.
Exclusion diets in children must
be carefully monitored in conjunction with a doctor and a dietitian if possible. Don't try them on our own. During their growth period, children require particular nutrients
and if these are excluded from the diet, they must be obtaining from alternative foods. For example, if cow's milk is replace by soya milk, alternative sources of
calcium will need to be found.
Exclusion diets are trial and error and there is no quick answer. Keeping
a diary of what you eat is and the reactions caused is a good way to establish if your diet is causing a problem. However, this diary will have to be kept
for months to give a good indication of what foods might be causing the problem. Another issue to consider is whether artificial colourings and preservatives
may be the cause of the problem. It is a good idea to try to avoid these and eat fresh food. However, if substances are consumed, keep a note of which
ones are in the food by checking the labels. Unwrapped foods such as breads, cakes etc will not have any labels, so ask about these in the shop.
It is not useful to exclude a food because this worked in someone else.
Every individual is totally different and what works for one person will not necessarily work for another.
Another point to remember is that if you go on a restricted diet, you can become allergic to the few foods you eat.
A varied diet is important.
Diet and children
When putting children on an exclusion diet, bear in mind that this may have social implications.
A child on a restricted diet may feel very left out at a party for example or at lunchtime during school.
Great patience and understanding will be required to help the child understand the situation.
Also, keep in mind that tolerance to foods can change with time.
There are various types of food allergies. Touching food can cause contact urticaria where there is swelling on the body. However, it may be that swallowing
the food causes no reaction. Sometimes food that causes a reaction on contact may also cause an allergic effect within the body
eg. stomach ache or feeling ill. It may even cause an outbreak on the skin. These types of reactions are
called immediate hypersensitivity reactions.