Eczema is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that can be debilitating to live with.
Around one in 12 adults in the UK currently have to endure symptoms such as red, dry, itchy and scaly skin.
Occasionally, sufferers may develop tiny blisters too, or the skin can split, causing pain.
While the skin condition has no known cure, changing your diet can help clear up your skin.
Beware milk and eggs
“Over 80 percent of eczema sufferers have higher than normal antibodies in their system. Effectively, they are having an allergic reaction,” said Sally Temple, a nutritional therapist for Nuffield Health.
“The most common sources of allergic reactions are milk, eggs, peanuts, fish, soy, wheat, gluten, citrus and chocolate.
“An elimination diet, cutting out these foods one at a time, can be a good way to identify if they are contributing to your eczema. But this should be done with the guidance of a GP or nutritional therapist to ensure you don’t miss out on nutrients.”
Eat more yoghurt
“The health of the digestive tract can have an effect on eczema sufferers by supporting your immune system,” said Temple.
“The development of a healthy immune system depends on having a diverse range of bacteria in the gut from birth and specific strains of probiotics (healthy bacteria) have been found particularly helpful for building a strong immune system, these include Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus species.”
You can top up on this ‘good’ bacteria with supplements or by eating probiotic foods such as yoghurt, kefir, miso and sauerkraut.
Swap in whole grain carbs
“Inflammation is a key component in the development of eczema, so following an anti-inflammatory diet can be beneficial,” advised Temple.
“Diets high in sugar and refined carbohydrates result in elevated insulin levels, which in turn promotes inflammation.
“Try instead to eat wholegrain carbohydrate, protein and plenty of vegetables to help keep insulin levels down.
“`Getting the right balance of fats in the diet can also have an anti-inflammatory effect. If you don’t have allergies, it can be beneficial to eat plenty of oily fish, seafood, nuts, seeds and flax oil. “Eat less saturated fat by cutting back on dairy and red meat.
“It is worth noting that people with eczema often have an altered ability to metabolise essential fats.
“Essential fats and in particular omega 3 fatty acids are required for skin health and for their roles in reducing inflammation.“
Enjoy lean red meat
“Ensuring you have a good balance of vitamins, minerals and flavonoids in your diet can help your skin’s condition,” explained Temple.
She recommended increasing zinc consumption, by eating more seafood, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate and lean red meat.
Additionally eating brightly coloured fruit, vegetables, and rosehip for their vitamin C, and sunflower seeds, almonds, pine nuts, avocado and dried apricots for vitamin E can be beneficial.
“Emerging research suggests that flavonoids (plant molecules) can help to rebalance the immune system and have been found to be beneficial for people with eczema,” she added.
“They have many health benefits but in this instance they appear to help by reducing histamine release and boosting the skin’s ability to fight infection.”