An unknown food allergy is the culprit when it comes to eczema. Body's immune system responds to an allergen leading to inflammation. This releases histamines, in turn resulting in eczema. Foods to avoid are dairy, soy, and peanuts. These rashes also could indicate something severe, maybe a celiac disease undiagnosed. Then, a sulfur-based antibiotic provides temporary respite but a gluten-free diet is must for the long haul.
Some 30 million people deal with the dry, itchy, rashy patches caused by eczema—and for many, the root cause is an unknown food allergy, says Cates. While adding, “When you encounter an allergen, your body’s immune response is amped up, causing inflammation.”
This process leads to the release of histamines (chemical neurotransmitters) throughout body tissues, which can lead to eczema eruptions.
Cates suggests keeping dairy food to pinpoint sensitivities if you have eczema. “The biggest offenders are dairy, gluten, soy, and peanuts,” she adds.
“Cow’s milk is probably the most common one.” If you have a hunch certain foods may be a problem but you can’t figure out which, see an allergist for testing.
A red, itchy rash will often get you a diagnosis of contact dermatitis, an allergic reaction that occurs when an irritant — a new laundry detergent, a cleaning product — touches your skin. It could have come even from bread.
But sometimes those bumps can indicate something more serious: undiagnosed celiac disease, an autoimmune condition in which ingesting gluten damages the small intestine, says Peterson.
Dermatitis herpetiformis, a stinging, blistering rash that tends to show up on knees, buttocks, elbows, lower back, and scalp, affects 15 to 25% of celiac sufferers—even those with no digestive symptoms.
What Really Happens
Here’s what’s going on: If you have celiac disease and ingest gluten, your immune system responds by releasing a defensive antibody called immoglobulin A (IgA) into the bloodstream.
IgA can pool in blood vessels under the skin, causing a rash. The short-term fix usually includes a sulfur-based antibiotic to stop the itch, but the only long-term solution is a gluten-free diet—one free of grains such as wheat, barley, rye, and triticale, says Peterson.
If you suspect celiac is your issue, make an appointment with a gastroenterologist, who can diagnose the condition through an endoscopy and blood work.