Eczema and food allergy

Many babies with moderate or severe eczema will also have a food allergy. Although this does not mean that the food is the cause of the eczema, avoiding the food is still important to prevent the child from having an allergic reaction. However, it is important to feed your baby the common allergy causing foods that your baby is not allergic to, to prevent them from developing other food allergies.

While adequate moisturising and cortisone creams or ointments remain the main management tools for eczema, in some young infants with severe eczema, avoiding certain foods may result in better eczema control. The foods could be identified by using an elimination diet and should always be conducted under the supervision of a clinical immunology/allergy specialist, alongside an allergy dietitian. If the skin improves, foods are introduced one at a time to see if it causes the eczema to flare. If there is no improvement in two weeks on the elimination diet, this means that food is unlikely to be a trigger for the eczema.

Testing for food allergies with skin tests or blood tests is not usually helpful in identifying the food allergies that make the eczema worse.

Allergy test results should be interpreted by a clinical immunology/allergy specialist to avoid removing foods from the baby’s diet unnecessarily.

Removing foods from a baby’s diet without using suitable substitutes can cause malnutrition and poor growth. If a baby is eating a food without signs of allergy, removing this food could lead to them developing a food allergy when the food is reintroduced.