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Eczema and Food Allergy

Dear Dr. Kagen:

I'm seeking information about possible food allergens that may cause eczema.

I have a 10 month old boy with eczema that started about one to two weeks after introduction of dairy products, soy, wheat and or eggs whites. We have eliminated all of these potential allergens, but the eczema has not slowed. His dad is a hay fever sufferer.

I'm hoping to do anything possible to control or eliminate this condition. Can you make any suggestions?


Amy G.
Helena Montana

Dear Amy,

Thanks for asking about the possible connection between food allergy and the skin condition of eczema.

It is very rare that a patient with eczema improves when avoiding food allergens which the person may have been found to have specific IgE antibodies towards.

Dietary avoidance regimens are of little help in childhood eczema.

Food allergy symptoms in early childhood include hives, stomach aches, diarrhea anaphylaxis and sometimes angioedema [large areas of deeper tissue swellings].

Allergy reactions are immediate, and are associated with itching due to the effects of the allergy chemical histamine being released from the allergy cells during the acute allergic reaction.

Eczema does not flare immediately after allergen exposures. Delayed immune reactivity is involved with the symptoms of eczema.

The best treatment for eczema is symptomatic use of antihistamines such as hydroxyzine (especially at bedtime so that the child does not excoriate the skin) and topical use of mild steroid containing creams which decrease the inflammation in the areas involved.

Be certain to discuss your child's eczema with your doctor since there are very good medicines available to treat it. Be reassured that it will quiet down sometime.

I hope this brief information helps.

Good Luck.

Steve Kagen, M.D.