Eczema and allergies, what’s the link? There is now a clear connection between eczema and food allergies. While eczema (atopic dermatitis) may be triggered or worsened by common food allergies such as those to eggs, milk, wheat, soy, and peanuts, eczema itself may be responsible for the development of food allergies in the first place. Keep reading to learn about how eczema can lead to allergies, who is more likely to develop them, and when you may want to be screened for food allergies if you or your are child are newly diagnosed or living with eczema.
Eczema and Allergic Conditions
Milk allergy is not necessarily directly linked with eczema, but both are more likely to occur in allergy-prone individuals. It is also a very common trigger for eczema, and is different than lactose intolerance. The more severe the allergic skin rash and the earlier the onset, the greater the chance that the individual will develop other allergies, including food allergies. Again, this probably reflects a person’s general allergic inclination, rather than being a direct link between a food and the skin rash.
But could there be a direct link between allergy and eczema? One theory is that the broken, rashy skin allows proteins to be “seen” by the immune system, while normal skin keeps out the allergens. This might make it easier for the immune system to attack the proteins that land on the broken skin, causing more allergies. However, this is just a theory.
One direct link between milk allergy and eczema is when the ingestion of milk actually triggers the rash.
Although milk is sometimes a trigger, there are many common triggers, including skin infection, irritants, the itch-scratch-itch cycle and various allergens in the environment.
Removing milk from the diet as a form of treatment carries nutritional and social risks, so dietary changes should only be done with medical supervision. If medical treatment for atopic dermatitis fails to provide relief, the possibility that milk (or other foods) is a trigger can be explored with an allergist.
The signs and symptoms of food allergies may be immediate or delayed, occurring only a few hours after eating the offending food, or occurring 24 hours or later. Food allergies can give rise to a wide variety of symptoms from nasal congestion and sneezing, to abdominal discomfort, nausea, and vomiting, to hives and a rash and more.
Symptoms of anaphylaxis, a severe and life-threatening allergic reaction may include lightheadedness (low blood pressure), palpitations (an irregular heart rate), flushing, itching and hives, difficulty breathing or wheezing, headache and confusion, and others, and urgent medical attention is needed.
Diagnosing Milk Allergies in People with Eczema
Some physicians recommend screening for food allergies in anyone with eczema, whereas others believe that not everyone needs to be concerned. The concern that holds some back from testing is that false positives (a positive test for allergies when an allergy does not exist) occur fairly often, and you shouldn't have to change your diet (or that of your child) for no reason.
The treatment of eczema and food allergies is multifaceted and includes eliminating the food from your diet, treating the eczema, and avoiding other triggers.