There is nothing more disheartening than having atopic eczema/dermatitis and knowing that flares are triggered by a number of foods/household/beauty products, but after having a patch test done you are told by the Allergist that you are not allergic to anything.
The point is that whilst you may not have an allergy or a food sensitivity, both would show IgE antibodies in tests, but you may have an intolerance which do not trigger IgE antibodies.
The only way to truly identify intolerances - in particular those related to foods - is by following the elimination diet - previously discussed on this page. It is a tough programme to follow, but the beauty of it is that it may help identify true triggers and allow some foods to be reintroduced with no problem. A case of the true trigger causing hyper-sensitivity that then makes you react to a disproportionate number of things.
When you click on 'Dr Google' to research possible triggers for atopic eczema/dermatitis, the main ones that come up are dairy, eggs and sugar, but did you know that the Nightshade family (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and aubergines) are a common trigger? A 2017 study (Nosrati et al.,) found that 51.4% of participants found symptom relief following exclusion of members of the Nightshade family.
All eczema sufferers, just like all humans are different - did you know that you can react to one member of the Nightshade family but not all? One of my client's is unable to tolerate tomatoes and aubergines but is fine with potatoes and peppers. So the key is to closely monitor your own reactions and not assume that whole families of foods need to be excluded.
The Elimination Diet is a core part of eczema management in relation food triggers. It isn't just useful for skin conditions, but is also an important tool for any health problems believed to be triggered by food intolerances.
Whilst allergy/intolerance testing is an important tool, for many people with intolerances tests come up negative, even when a clear reaction can be observed. For example, a recent client has negative tests for tomato but if they even touch a tomato, let alone eat one, their eczema starts to flare.
What is an elimination diet? It is exactly what it says on the tin - a diet during which you strip back the foods you eat to those which are observed as being the least allergenic, for a certain about of time - I usually recommend 6 weeks - followed by a period of reintroduction of foods one by one in a planned rotation.
For some this diet not only highlights the main trigger, but the rest it gives the gut also results in some foods that were believed to be triggers to be exonerated!
Elimination diets can be difficult and it is important, particularly for growing children, that the person embarking on an elimination diet is followed by a registered nutrition or healthcare practitioner.
During the month of September I will be running a closed-group Elimination Diet programme - if you are interested in signing up, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Plant-based diets are having their. moment in the sun and are being touted as the all round solution to a number of health conditions, including eczema. Whilst eating more vegetables and fruit is important, the simplistic suggestion that a 'one-size-fits-all' diet is the solution for everyone - whether they have eczema or another health condition - is wrong.
Many people with eczema do react to common animal food triggers including: dairy and eggs, but many others also have plant food triggers - tomatoes, ginger, strawberries, kiwi and aubergines are some of the food intolerances I see the most often in clients with eczema.
We are all different. We have different triggers, different guts, different metabolisms and different lives. Before you think about cutting out whole food groups of any kind, because you saw that it 'cured' someone else on Facebook, consult with a registered nutrition practitioner. You may be depriving yourself of food pleasures and your body of key nutrients, without it being entirely necessary and with it potentially being dangerous.