Food allergies and atopic dermatitis

Some children with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis also have some type of food allergy. Although the link between food allergies and atopic dermatitis is not fully understood, some children with atopic dermatitis are thought to have a food allergy that triggers rash and itching.

A few common foods are responsible for most allergic reactions.1 In adults, shellfish, fish, tree nuts (such as walnuts or almonds), and peanuts cause 90% of the allergic reactions. In children, foods high in protein cause 90% of the allergic reactions. These include peanuts, milk, wheat, soy, tree nuts, and eggs.

With the help of a doctor, you can find out whether certain foods are linked to your or your child's symptoms by trying an elimination diet. But there is little evidence that dietary restrictions improve symptoms of atopic dermatitis.

An elimination diet consists of the following steps:

  • Eliminate one food from the diet at a time, observing and recording any changes in symptoms over the next days or weeks.
  • Reintroduce the suspected food to the diet. Foods that you are allergic to will cause an allergic reaction within a few hours. But foods will not make atopic dermatitis symptoms show up within hours.

Citations

  1. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (2000). Food reactions. In Allergy Report, vol. 3. Available online: http://www.theallergyreport.com/reportindex.html.

Last Updated: May 5, 2008

Author: Maria G. Essig, MS, ELS

Medical Review: Martin Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine

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