Eczema Support Groups and Associations across Globe

Reach the support group in your Location

Atopic Dermatitis also commonly known as Eczema is a skin condition characterized by itchy, red and inflamed skin. Eczema affects babies and kids more than adults. Atopic dermatitis is chronic skin condition and tends to flare periodically due to triggers. There are some common triggers that flare Eczema but it seems that individuals are susceptible to different triggers.  Environmental and weather triggers affect large populations at the same time and that is why Eczema is more prevalent in some parts of the globe than others and flares more during certain seasons.  Parts of the world with a cold climate have a higher incidence of Eczema prevalence.


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Eczema is not fatal but can severely affect the quality of living for sufferers. Also, there is no known complete cure for Eczema. Since Eczema is not considered a fatal disease it receives lesser attention from government-run agencies leaving sufferers to fend from themselves. As a result, there are a number of Eczema support groups and associations. These groups and associations are mostly non-profitable and aim to support Eczema sufferers with information and knowledge about living with Eczema and the various available treatments.

In this article, we have tried to list organizations from different countries where one can find support and advise for managing eczema

1) International Council of Eczema

International Council of Eczema

Headquartered at Chicago, USA International Eczema Council is a Non-Governmental International body that brings together Dermatology Experts on Atopic Dermatitis.  The IEC works towards the goal of promoting good caring practices for Eczema Patients, carry out advance research, and disseminate evidence-based information on AD to healthcare professionals. 
 
It also collaborates with physicians, scientists, and stakeholder organizations across the globe to achieve the set goals, its councilors are spread worldwide in order to help patients in their respective regions.

2) National Eczema Association 

National Eczema Association Logo
 

Based out of USA The National Eczema Association (NEA) is a non-profit organization with a stated mission to improve the health and quality of life for individuals with eczema through research, support and education.  NEA claims to provide eczema sufferers the information they need to best manage their condition, while fast-tracking research towards better treatments and a cure. NEA is one of the comprehensive organizations doing an all-round work right from research, providing information, support and helping out eczema sufferers at the grass-root level. NEA claims to be dedicated to improving the lives of people suffering from Eczema 

3) Eczema Outreach Support 
Eczema Support UK

Eczema Outreach Support exists to help families deal with the practical and emotional aspects of having a child with eczema.  We understand the impact the condition can have on the whole family, and we understand how isolating it can feel. Our vision is to see families with eczema flourish in a society where they can lead healthy and fulfilled lives. We offer a wide range of support, activities, and resources to help parents/carers and the child with eczema feel more able to cope with the ups and downs of the condition. 

4) National Eczema Society 

National Eczema Society

Formed in 1975, National Eczema Society is a charity organization registered in England, Wales and in Scotland, dedicated to improving the quality of life of people with eczema and their caregivers. The National Eczema Society aims to provide practical advice for treating eczema and to raise awareness about the condition. The organization works with children and adults who suffer from eczema by providing helpline and information services.  

5) The Eczema Society of Canada 

Eczema Society of Canada

The Eczema Society of Canada is a registered Canadian charity dedicated to improving the lives of Canadians living with eczemaWorking in the field of education, support, awareness, advocacy, and research in Eczema. With the mission of improving the lives of Canadians living with eczema, they offer patient and healthcare provider education, have support volunteers across the country, and fund research efforts through a competitive research grant program

6)EczémaQuébec

Eczéma Québec  is a network of doctors, nurses, allied health care professionals, trainees and patients under The McGill University Center for Excellence for Atopic Dermatitis (COE AD) that includes:
• Jewish General Hospital
• St. Mary’s Hospital
• McGill University Health Center

7) Eczema Association Australasia

Eczema Association Australasia

EAA is a non-profit organization dedicated to eczema sufferers in Australia and was founded in January 1994.  EAA aims to reach every Australian who lives with this disease. The Eczema Association of Australasia Inc supports and educates Eczema sufferers and caregivers, along with the wider community, in all aspects of Eczema and its impact. With a helpline number displayed on their website, they are just a call away for every Australian suffering with eczema. 

8) Eczema Support Australia 
Eczema Support Australia
Another group in Australia for Eczema Sufferers, Eczema Support Australia Ltd is a new and developing support network established and managed by volunteers.  Originally named Hands to Hold, Eczema Support Australia Ltd is registered as a Public Benevolent Institution and is an Australian registered charity and endorsed as a deductible gift recipient (DGR).  

Hands to Hold was inspired by a family with twin boys who have severe allergies and eczema.  Thanks to the initiative and drive of a friend, this family finally received wonderful community support, which has made all the difference.  All families and individuals dealing with these chronic conditions deserve our community support. 

9) Eczema Association of New Zealand 

Eczema Association Newzealand Logo

Established as an individual body in 2015 The Eczema Association of New Zealand (EANZ) is part of an independent not-for-profit Australasian wide organization.  

The Eczema Association of New Zealand Inc supports and educates Eczema sufferers and caregivers, along with the wider community, in all aspects of Eczema and its impact. It offers a membership where an individual can avail to different facilities. 

10) French Association of Eczema 

  Eczema Association France

The French Association of Eczema is committed to patients and families suffering from Eczema since 2011. It includes patients with atopic dermatitis, chronic hand eczema, contact dermatitis and other forms of eczema with an aim to help them improve their daily lives, through psychological support, information, education or research.

The main goal of the association is to bring information to patients and their families in order to break their isolation. Their website in local French language goes a long way in achieving this goal. 

11) Malaysia Eczema Support Community 

Malaysia Eczema Support Community MESC is a Facebook-based platform. The members of this group provide evidence-based information and support eczema sufferers by answering their queries. They also do the vital job of raising awareness about the needs of Eczema sufferers.

MESC is backed by dermatologists, immunologist/allergist and medical and health professionals. The group is open to the public and anyone who is interested in getting Eczema advice can join the group. 

12) Israeli Association for Atopic Dermatitis 

Eczema Association Israel

The Israeli Atopic Dermatitis Association serves as a unifying platform for Eczema patients and their families with an aim to provide every patient with the most up-to-date medical knowledge and enabling them to build the most appropriate treatment plan. 

The association works with the health communities in Israel and around the world, to raise awareness about the right treatment of skin disease. Improving the quality of life for Eczema patients so that they lead a normal life is a stated goal of this association.  

13) Malta Eczema Society 

Malta eczema society

The Malta Eczema Society was set up in 2001 to help those with eczema and their families. The group was established after feeling the need for it in the country like other nations where eczema is prevalent.
The society aims to help by providing support, information and practical advice via public talks and other activities and to increase awareness about eczema and the problems it may cause. 

14)  The Association of Psoriatic and Atopic Eczema 

Eczema Association Czech Republic Logo

The support group in the Czech Republic is common for both Psoriasis and Atopic Dermatitis called SPAE. The Association of Psoriatic and Atopic Eczema (SPAE) is a voluntary, non-profit civic association. Primarily working with Czech Academy of Dermatovenerology SPAE with an aim to promote an improved form of treatment for the non-infectious skin disease, thereby improving the social-economic condition of the people suffering from this.

SPAE is open to all citizens affected by psoriasis, atopic eczema, and vitiligo. It openly invites the professionals who can contribute in this cause. 

15) Atopika

Atopika is an Institute in the Republic of Slovenia located in central Europe dedicated to Educating, Counselling, and Support for Patients with Atopic Dermatitis. The institute was founded by Tina Butcher to share her knowledge and personal experience with parents of children, adolescents and adult patients with atopic dermatitis. 

The founder also Counsels (in person and through social networks) and educates people based on the latest scientific knowledge, with the aim of alleviating disease symptoms and improving the quality of life of the patient and her family.

The Institute also works in raising public awareness of the disease and on prevention of discrimination and stigmatization of Eczema sufferer

16) Global Allergy & Asthma Patient Platform

Eczema Association Austria

The Global Allergy and Asthma Patient Platform, Austria abbreviated as GAAPP is a network linking organization established in 2009 with a common purpose to empower the patient and support the patient voice so that decision-makers in both the public and private sectors, in government and industry will be mindful of patient needs, desires, and their rights.  

The main interest of GAAPP is to support and improvement of the quality of life of people around the globe who have allergies and asthma. With a goal to help patients and their families through their journey with asthma and allergies work in concert with healthcare professionals, researchers and scientists, industry and governments to further the aspirations of people with asthma and allergies. While based in Vienna, Austria, our Board is representative of all regions of the world with large and small groups. 

17) German Allergy and Asthma Association (DAAB)

Eczema Association of Germany

The German Allergy and Asthma Association (DAAB) was founded way back in 1897 as the first patient association in Germany serving the children and adults suffering from allergies, nutritional problems, respiratory or skin diseases since 120 years. 
 
The Association has a team of consultants from the field of nutrition, biology, chemistry, to asthma, eczema and anaphylaxis trainer working for people who have allergies, asthma, atopic dermatitis or intolerance. 
 
For people suffering from Eczema DAAB provides counseling and shows them ways to get through the difficult phases and to extend the phases with good, calm skin trying to make their everyday life easier 

18) Dermatology Society of Singapore

Dermatology Society of Singapore

Founded under the umbrella of Singapore Medical Association way back at 1960 The Dermatological Society of Singapore got established as an independent society in 1972.  
The Society conducts various activities to achieve its objectives of advancing the knowledge and practice of dermatology, promoting research in dermatology, promoting regional and international co-operation in dermatologyacquiring and publishing literature and scientific works, it also organizes conferences, seminars, conventions as one of the major role of the society is providing continuous medical education for medical practitioners in the field of dermatology. 

19) The European umbrella organization for psoriasis movements

European Psoriasis Association

Founded in November 1988 The European umbrella organization for psoriasis movements (EUROPSO) is a federation of psoriasis patients’ associations based in the geographic region of Europe.  

As an umbrella organization and as a Member of IFPA they work closely with the worldwide psoriasis movements – the International Federation of Psoriasis Associations (IFPA), the United States-based National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) and to the Nordic Psoriasis alliance (NORDPSO).

They work towards raising awareness of the psycho-social, medical and financial needs of psoriasis patients, and influence political and administrative policy and decision-makers.

20) Eczema Society Kenya (ESK)

Eczema Society Kenya is a Facebook group founded in 2015. The group’s motto is creating awareness on Eczema, its management and creating a platform for people affected to share ideas thus making lives bearable for the eczema sufferers in Kenya. With a lot of activities and events, the group brings together people to disburse the valuable information related to eczema. People can join their Facebook group and become a member to avail and share valuable information.

So that concludes the list wherein we tried to give maximum information about the different supports groups and associations that help in improving the lives of people with eczema and their caregivers.

Managing Eczema Flares

Table of Content

Introduction

Flare is a term commonly associated with Eczema. What is a Flare? A ‘flare’ or ‘flare-up’ is a term used in both medical and non-medical literature to refer to an exacerbation of a disease. Once someone has a flareup they start searching for a remedy to cure the flares. But perhaps it is more important to know what caused the flareup in the first place because as the adage goes “Prevention is better than cure.” Usually, Eczema flares are caused by some triggers.  There is a list of commonly known triggers. Avoiding these common triggers can prevent a flare-up and the associated symptoms.  Once you know what triggers flare your eczema, the best thing to do is to avoid those flares.

What Causes a Flare?

“What caused my Eczema to flare”, this is a question that bothers Eczema sufferers the most. It is very important for each individual to determine what causes their Eczema to flare or in other words what are the triggers that affect them the most. Usually, triggers are something that you encounter such as a certain type of clothing or something in the weather such as pollen or something that you have consumed.  Triggers are not the same for every individual. Different triggers may cause a flare in different people. Some of the most common triggers are intense sweating, scratchy woolen clothes, pet dander, hot or cold weather, harsh soaps, and cleansers.

It’s very hard to say accurately what is the exact cause of eczema for an individual. Probably the genes play a vital role. If your parents are prone to Eczema flares, you may be, too. Another reason could be a weak immune system that fails to defend the body from attacks of external factors ultimately causing a flare. This is common for both Atopic Dermatitis and Contact Dermatitis wherein the former is more thought of chronic condition and the later though not chronic as Atopic Dermatitis but occurs only when your skin touches an irritant. Nevertheless, both types get flares from Eczema triggers.

Eczema Flares are common in babies and kids too. Eczema Flares are more troublesome at younger ages because babies have very sensitive skin and it is hard to prevent children from scratching themselves. Quite often children grow out of Eczema as they grow up. It is very well known that Eczema cannot be cured. However, Eczema can be managed by reducing the number and severity of Eczema flare-ups.

How to effectively manage Eczema Flare-ups?

As mentioned earlier it is very important to try to reduce Eczema flareups by knowing and avoiding your triggers.

Prevention Measures to avoid Eczema Flares

Avoid Irritants: There are certain products that cause Eczema flares when they touch your skin. These could be cleansers, perfumes, laundry detergents, soaps or food items. To know what product actually causes your Eczema to flare, you will have to track the products and do elimination trials which means that eliminate a product from your daily routine or diet for some time and see if that helps your Eczema. It is safer to switch to odorless and colorless soaps, cleansers, or laundry detergent.

Indoor Pollutants: Often tiny particles in the environment can cause your eczema to flare. Some of these are Dust, Cigarette Smoke, Pet Dander, Mould, etc. It is always good to maintain hygiene at home and work. Dust regularly, avoid pets if you are allergic to them, quit smoking or hanging out with those who do.

Clothing: One of the common triggers and perhaps the closest one that irritates your skin are your clothes. Avoid Scratchy woolen clothes, wear breathable fibers avoiding multiple layers or the heavy ones which make you sweat.

If your skin type is dry take extra efforts to keep it moist. Use body lotion soon after the bath, use moisturizer two or three times a day. Maintain a good humidity level in your bedroom while sleeping to keep the air moist. Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated.

Winter: Dry air combined with indoor heating systems robs the moisture from skin making it dry and more prone to eczema flares. Use a thick moisturizer immediately after a shower to lock moisture in the skin, avoid hot baths and keep it short (use lukewarm water). Avoid rubbing your body with rough towels, pat dry instead. Use a humidifier to maintain the humidity level and curb dry heat pumped by the heating systems.

Treating Eczema Flares

Topical Steroids: Over the counter steroid creams are vital in reducing the red, itchy flares. If they don’t work you may need a stronger dose that can be availed with the help of a physician.

Moisturise: Keep your skin moisturized as much as you can. It softens your skin relieving pain and reducing the eczema flare especially if it is caused by dry skin. Have plenty of water and other liquids to keep your skin hydrated.

Take a Bath: A look warm bath may give you relief during flares. But remember, keep the bath short (not more than 10 mins). Apply moisturizer soon after your bath so as to seal the moisture of the skin and preventing it from drying.

Avoid Scratching: Scratching usually damages the skin, which can itself cause more flares to occur. Try to reduce scratching whenever possible. You could try gently rubbing your skin with your fingers instead. Keep your skin covered with light clothing to reduce damage from habitual scratching.

Wet Wraps:  Designed for Eczema special medicated bandages, clothing or wet wraps can be used to cover the areas of flared skin. These bandages can be used over emollients or with topical corticosteroids to prevent scratching allowing the skin underneath to heal locking the skin moisture.

Antihistamines: If you have severe itching you can have a dose of Antihistamine as recommended by the physician especially during bedtime. Consider the side effects before consuming.

Care Plan: Maintain and follow a care plan created by either you or as recommended by your physician. It is very critical to take necessary action at the recommended time to overcome and manage flares effectively.

For timely recognition of flares and informed treatment decisions during clinic visits, guidelines advocate tracking of the disease by
a) monitoring possible triggers (e.g. allergens),
b) recording disease severity including specific symptoms and signs
c) response to therapy
Atopic dermatitis. The New England journal of medicine 2005; 352: 2314-24.

Manually maintaining detailed records of the triggers that you are being exposed to can be time-consuming. Also, it is important to record the regimen you are following and how well you are adhering to it. Traditionally people have maintained a paper diary to keep these records. Recently Health-Tech Companies have come up with Eczema Managing apps available that allow you to maintain digital records, tracking your regimens and triggers.

Visit a physician:

If your Flares don’t respond to your care plan, do not hesitate to visit your General physician. The Physician may recommend other topical or oral and may also recommend a referral to a dermatologist who can take a few tests and prescribe recommended medications.

UV Rays Boon or Bane for Eczema

Sunlight and Eczema
One of the challenges faced by people suffering from Eczema is the uncertainty in the timings of flares. For most people, Eczema flares show up without any prior warnings. While there is no complete cure for Atopic Dermatitis, knowing the triggers that evoke your symptoms may help in reducing the frequency of flares. Most people have their flares in winters and dry climate. Some people find that their eczema improves with exposure to sunlight while others experience a worsening of their condition. When exposed to sunlight, overheating may lead to excess sweating which when dries up leaves behind its salt content giving rise to itch and scratch cycle resulting in eczema flares. The type of Eczema which worsens when exposed to sunlight is called as photosensitive eczema.
 

Tips to Tackle sun  

  • Use an Eczema Safe Sunscreen with suitable SPF, when in sun for an extended period. 
  • Leave a gap between applications of emollient and sunscreen to avoid diluting the sunscreen 
  • Don’t be in the sun if it is strong especially between 11:00 am to 3:00 PM  
  • Use Hats, Shades and breathable cloths which can protect you from the sun but not heavy which may cause you to sweat. 
  • UV rays as a treatment for Eczema

In some cases, it is found that sun exposure improves eczema symptoms but the challenge is that you should be careful and do it in control. Studies reveal that exposure to sunlight triggers the release of a compound in the skin that alleviates the inflammation thereby easing the symptoms of Atopic Dermatitis.  

UV radiations from the sun can have damaging side effects too, including burning, aging and raising the risk of skin cancer. The trick here is not to overdo it. Sun exposure leads to increased vitamin D production, which can be great for the health of the skin. 

Due to the benefits of UV on eczema, it is used as a therapy wherein artificial UV waves very similar to the one produced by the sun are used to heal eczema flares. Exposure to UV waves has several benefits to the skin such as alleviating inflammation, inducing vitamin D, reducing itch, increasing the capability of the skin to tolerate foreign particles, etc. This therapy for Eczema using UV waves is called as phototherapy or Ultraviolet therapy for Eczema. 

Treatment 

Generally, dermatologist prescribes you phototherapy and is recommended only when all other treatment like applying emollients, steroids and other medications remain ineffective. The duration of the treatment depends upon the severity of the eczema symptoms. One is advised to apply moisturizer all over the body before exposure to UV lights.  The sessions may be reduced depending upon the response that one shows to UV therapy and can be stopped ultimately with a reduced cycle of once or twice a week. 

Managing Eczema in Dry Weather

Dry skin

The skin is the largest organ and the outermost layer of the body. It acts as a barrier to entry for foreign particles and is made up of cells containing water. Depending on our actions and surrounding conditions, pores in our skin allow water to evaporate. Weather conditions affect our skin and are hardest to control. Extreme weather conditions whether extreme heat or extreme cold and extremely dry or extremely humid, have a direct impact on people suffering from Eczema. In this article, we shall discuss the implications of dry weather conditions for Eczema sufferers.  

One of the most visible symptoms of Atopic Dermatitis is dry and scaly skin. It is well known that this condition in eczema worsens when the skin dries up. Dry weather combined with low temperatures especially in winters further worsens this condition causing eczema to flare. In other words, dryness acts as a trigger to cause a flare. Even people without eczema have an urge to scratch on waking up in dry weather 

It is very important for people suffering from eczema to retain skin moisture. When the weather is extremely dry, the air in the environment steals the moisture from the skin, drying it out and triggering an eczema flare-up. Moreover, alternating between cold and dry climate, when outdoors and indoors, can aggravate eczema symptoms. Often people find their dermatitis symptoms on parts of the body that are exposed to the weather elements 

How to manage eczema in dry weather? 

The best course to manage Eczema in extreme weather conditions is to make changes to your lifestyle. The quicker you adapt to the weather, the lesser the effect on Eczema. Custom care regimens given by doctors for individuals should take into account the effect of weather that the individual is exposed to.  

Managing eczema in dry weather

Moisturizing strategy 

One of the most effective, easy and cheap treatments is to use moisturizers abundantly. Moisturize skin at least twice a day. Lock the moisture in the skin to help hydration by applying moisturizer right after a bath on wet skin. This will help repair the skin barrier. Change your moisturizer strategy, especially in dry winter, use thick moisturizer instead of lotions (e.g. Petroleum jelly) soon after the bath and give a good amount of time for absorption. Though it may be tedious and time-consuming it ian effective strategy. Cover your hands and face with moisturizer before dropping out in the cold petroleum jelly and emollient can be used to cover the lips. 

Bathing  

Hot water baths heat up your body resulting in skin moisture being lost due to evaporation. Also, sudden changes in temperature may irritate skin. Use lukewarm water for bathing and keep baths short. Avoid harsh soaps with fragrance dye and alcohol, which can further dry and irritate the skin, rather use moisturizing soap. Moisturize immediately after a shower so that you can retain and lock the moisture. 

Comfortable clothes 

Use natural and fabrics and always try to dress in layers so that you can respond to changes in temperature. Do not dress too warm so as to cause a sweat which worsens Eczema giving rise to scratch and itch cycle. Avoid harsh and scratchy clothes especially woolen clothes which people wear to seek protection from cold 

Humidifier 

Generally during dry and cold weather, people use heaters and the heating system pumps in lot of hot air into the room. This hot air irritates eczema affected skin increasing the chance to flare. Use Humidifier to maintain the humidity indoors.  50% relative humidity is considered ideal for keeping eczema affected skin moist. Keep your house environment comfortable maintaining the temperature and humidity level so as to get sound sleep. 

Consume Liquids  

Even though you don’t feel thirst keep drinking water as our body tends to lose water via various processes as it is made up of 70% of water. Consuming liquids not only protect your skin from dry weather but also beautifies, gives a glow and keeps your skin supple and healthy. 

How to prevent skin allergies when pollen content is high?

Eczema Flares and Pollen content in the air

Atopic Dermatitis is a chronic skin condition that cannot be cured and has to be managed. The severity of Eczema varies over time and worsens due to some reasons which are called triggers.  There are different types of triggers and everybody is not affected in the same way by a trigger. When a person suffers from a breakout of Eczema i.e. the severity of Eczema worsens, she is said to be having a flareup.  

There’s a strong association between allergies and Eczema especially with triggers un the airCommon indoor triggers in the air include dust mites, pet dander, etc. Recent studies have also revealed a relationship between the development of eczema flares and Pollen content of the air. Pollen content and associated allergies are often seasonal and are most acute during the transition of spring to summer. 

Environmental allergens like pollen not only produce immediate allergic reactions but also interrupt the permeability barrier of the skin. The lipids released from pollen exhibit chemical and functional similarities to leukotrienes and prostaglandins (pollen-associated lipid mediators). They induce an immune response which exacerbates eczema symptoms causing flares. 

Pollen allergens enter the skin through hair follicles and generally can stay there up to 1 week. Hence, allergens penetrating the hair follicles may remain active for an extended period of time causing skin irritations and flares. 

Handling Eczema in High pollen content  

  • As the adage goes, prevention is better than cure. To prevent flares caused by pollen.

It is very important to know pollen content at your location or the place where you are planning to travel/visit so that necessary precautions can be taken.  

  • Tools such as EczemaLess which leverage AI can guide you with the pollen content of at your location and can give you a correlation between your flares and triggers. 
  • Studies have found that pollen triggers flares and exacerbates the symptoms only on the skin which gets directly exposed to it. So covering your body/skin completely while going out will prevent the direct contact of pollen to skin thereby avoiding the trigger and subsequent flares to a large extent. 
  • Avoid morning walks or being outdoor in the morning during spring as the pollen contents are high in the morning. Similarly, avoid freshly cut grass to prevent direct exposure to pollen in spring. 
  • Take a shower immediately after being outdoors for a while so that you can rinse off the allergens before they exacerbate any allergic reactions giving rise to immune response. 
  • If you the local pollen content is high keep your doors and windows shut to avoid this airborne allergen from entering your house. Keep your outdoor equipment and tools outside the house if not then at least outside your bedrooms so that you are not bringing pollen along with you in your resting place. 
  • Use Anti-allergy filters in your air conditioner to limit the exposure to pollens indoors. Using Air condition also help to keep the temperature in check thereby reducing the chance of sweat and ultimately itching.  
  • Do not forget to follow your daily care routine of applying moisturizers, wet wraps, showers, etc along with the extra care measures to manage your eczema effectively during the pollen season
     

Study Referred: Birch pollen influence the severity of atopic eczema Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2015; 8: 539–548. 

Food Allergy and Eczema

Eczema is a chronic skin condition that cannot be cured and has to be managed. The main goal of Eczema management is to keep flareups to the minimum and improve quality of living.  There are several triggers for Eczema but one of the most important ones is food. Typically people think that skin allergies are caused by substances that come in contact with the skin. Even though Food may not come in contact with skin, some food items are considered major triggers for Eczema.

What are Food Allergies?

Our Body’s immune system works in a way by fighting out infections and other substances which could be harmful to our good health. Food allergy is a response from the body’s immune system that occurs soon after eating a certain food. It occurs when our immune system wrongly identifies some of the proteins in the food or a substance in a portion of food as a danger, thereby, triggering a protective response. When someone is allergic to a particular food, even a tiny amount of that allergy-causing food may result in triggering the signs and symptoms of the allergy such as digestive problems,  respiratory problem, swollen airways, inflammation of the skin resulting in Eczema, etc.

The body’s immune system keeps you healthy by fighting off infections and other dangers to good health. A food allergy reaction occurs when your immune system overreacts to a food or a substance in a food, identifying it as a danger and triggering a protective response.

The substances that cause allergies are called allergens. In this case, any food or its substance for which a person is allergic is an allergen.

What Causes Food Allergies?

Let’s take an example of a kid with a peanut allergy. When this kid eats a peanut-topped brownie his immune system mistakenly identifies peanut ingredient in the food as harmful and a threat to the body. In response, his immune system triggers cells to release an antibody known as IgE (immunoglobulin E) to neutralize the allergy-causing substance (allergen). Now next time when the same kid eats any substance that contains peanut or has peanut as an ingredient, IgE antibodies sense it and as a threat and signals the immune system to release a chemical called histamine, as well as other chemicals, into the bloodstream. These chemicals cause allergy symptoms.

Are Food Allergy and Food Intolerance same?

In a lot of situation people often get confused between Food Allergy and Food Intolerance leading them to incorrect treatments. Food intolerance has nothing to do with the immune system and has symptoms mostly related to bowel like bloating, gas, burping, loose stools, and others like headache, nervousness, etc. The main reason for food intolerance is because the person is unable to digest a particular substance like lactose (the phenomenon called as lactose intolerance). Food Intolerance is not as dangerous as food Allergy which may in some case be life-threatening.

Although it depends upon person to person for the kind of food allergy he has and a person can be allergic to any food, but it is found that almost 90 % of food allergy is caused by the food category Eggs, Milk, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Fish, Shellfish, Wheat and Soy.

Common Food AllergensAllergies can be hereditary that means it they can be inherited from parents to their kids through genes. But it is not necessary that if one or both the parents have an allergy all their kids will have the same, it just increases the chances and many people develop an allergy even without their parents having it.

Food triggers in eczema

For sufferers of Eczema, a particular food item or multiple food items can act as triggers. Being one of the commonest triggers, food allergy often triggers a rash and a general itchy feeling, which can start the scratch-itch cycle of eczema. A sufferer of Eczema may experience a flare-up immediately after consuming the food they are allergic to. Food allergy-causing eczema is also closely related to intestinal hyperpermeability otherwise known as “Leaky Gut Syndrome”

Some of the common Food Triggers that cause eczema flares are mentioned below

Gluten and foods containing Gluten
Gluten is a protein that is commonly found in wheat, barley, rye, etc.  Gluten has been shown to contribute to eczema symptoms and act as a trigger for flare-ups.

Soy
Soy and its well-known forms like  tofu, soy milk, soy yogurt, soy ice cream, soy cheese, and soy flour can flare-up your Eczema as it is considered to be a common allergen for people suffering from Eczema

Sugar
Sugar and refined carbohydrates are pro-inflammatory by nature which is a contributing factor in eczema. Moreover, it is found that eczema is linked with the presence of bad gut bacteria and fungus such as Candida Albicans which thrive on sugar.

Dairy
Whether its food intolerance or food allergy the first food group that is advised to be eliminated from a sufferer’s diet are dairy products which are considered to be pro-inflammatory in the body. This is because some of the dairy products like cows milk contain large protein molecules that are difficult to digest or recognized as an allergen by the immune system

Egg
Eggs as such have no effect on eczema unless the patient has an allergy to eggs. An egg allergy can cause increased levels of histamine in the body, which leads to an outbreak of eczema.

Processed food

Processed food contains things like food dyes, additives, and preservatives which are pro-inflammatory and may cause eczema to flare. It is shockingly sad that 60% of American’s daily calories come from processed diet as per a study published in the journal BMJ Open conducted by the University of Sao Paulo.

These apart foodstuffs which are considered to be superfoods such as avocado and Brocolli are also found to worsen eczema symptoms this is due to the rich source of salicylates and other amines.

Treatment

Food can be a trigger for worsening eczema by causing flare-ups but is not the cause of eczema. This means that avoiding the food is not likely to cure eczema but will help to reduce the eczema flares. Since Eczema cannot be cured the goal is to get rid of Eczema symptoms i.e. flareups as much as possible and prevent them from happening.
Eczema treatment is multifaceted which requires multiple things to be taken care of and doesn’t depend on anyone action.

Elimination Diet

Elimination Diet Protocol

Often Dermatologists recommend an elimination diet to identify food triggers that cause eczema flares. The standard procedure is that some food items are eliminated from the sufferer’s diet and added back to the diet. For e.g., If flares seem to occur after consuming wheat, don’t consume wheat or any wheat products for a few days or weeks. Monitor your symptoms for improvement. If your eczema improves, slowly reintroduce wheat back into your diet. If symptoms return, wheat is likely an eczema trigger for you. Removing these foods from your diet could promote healthier skin.
If you think you might be allergic to a certain food, bring this up to your doctor. They can refer you to an allergist for further testing. Avoiding highly processed foods can reduce your potential for exposure, and is thought to be beneficial for overall health as well.

Keep record

A food journal or diary will be helpful to maintain the records of everything you eat as well as your symptoms over a period of time. And when you get a flare you can quickly refer your diary to narrow down a particular meal and the food you had in that meal.

It may be little hectic and too much paperwork to keep a record of your diet and symptoms with date and time but it’s the best way to identify the culprit food. Keeping record nowadays is very easy with help of an app like EczemaLess which not only helps you to keep a record of your diet, symptoms, and flareups but also your care plan, current therapy and its effect on eczema severity just at your fingertips.

Some Tips to follow

  • When consuming outside food Be sure to read food labels carefully and know what you’re eating and drinking.
  • While dining at restaurants be sure that your server or chef is aware that you can’t eat the food that causes you flares, and you need to be completely sure that the meal you order doesn’t contain that
  • Plan your meals and snacks before when you travel or go to an event carrying a cooler packed with allergen-free food.

Eliminating certain foods and avoiding food can only prevent the flares but to keep the symptoms in check carry out your routine eczema treatment of moisturizing, applying topical ointments, etc.

Always Remember eliminating a group of food or diet restrictions can lead to poor nutrition adults and malnutrition and growth delay in babies and children. Speak with your health care provider about maintaining a well-balanced diet and keep her informed and get her approval before making a certain change to your diet.