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Relationship Between Food Allergies and Eczema

by Vinay M
Food Allergies and Eczema

Food Allergies and Eczema – A Detailed Study:

Food allergies are basically defensive actions of your immune system against certain proteins found in food which your immune system mistakenly considers harmful for your body.

The very first time you consume such a food , the immune system releases antibodies called immunoglobulin E or IGE. The next time you eat the same food IGE tries to counter it by inducing release of large quantities of histamine. Histamine can have some effect on your gastrointestinal tract , skin , respiratory system , cardiovascular system.

When you are suffering from food allergy, if you consume or even touch that specific item , it can leave a severe effect on your skin. However not each & every food, associated with skin problems are activated by food allergy. On the other hand some specific foods can make the situation worse for few people.

Depending on how your immune system is reacting, here are a few symptoms:

When The Reaction Is IGE-Mediated:

Food Allergies

Image by: Tim Sheerman-Chase

  • Appearance of redness on your skin, which is also known as erythema
  • Pruritus or itching
  • Angioedema or swelling in and around eyes or lips or face or even mouth
  • Hives or urticarial (itchy reddish bump)

When The Reaction Is Non-IGE-Mediated:

  • Atopic eczema or atopic dermatitis
  • Itching, which also known as pruritus
  • Erythema or redness appearing on your skin

Some other non-skin related signs of food allergies are abdominal pain, discharging of blood or mucus with stool, sneezing, vomiting, wheezing, chest tightness, diarrhea, cough etc. These problems can appear along with the skin problems.

Foods That Cause Allergic Reactions:

Among kids almost 90% of these allergies originate from food like, soy, wheat, eggs, milk, peanuts, almond, pecans & walnuts. For adults, 90% is triggered from shellfish, peanuts, almond, walnuts etc.

When you suffer from food allergies , your immune system by mistake assumes a particular food or a particular substance in the food as the main culprit. As an immediate response to this false assumption, the immune system nudges the cells to discharge antibodies called Immunoglobulin E ( IGE ).There main purpose to counter the effects of the so called culprit foods / food substances ( known as allergen ). Every time you take a portion of that food, your body gets a signal from the immune system to release histamine, a chemical, into your blood stream.

A list of foods, which can causes irritations are:

Eggs and meat

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  • Shrimp,
  • Crab,
  • Lobster,
  • Shellfish
  • Pecans,
  • Walnuts,
  • Peanuts
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Fish
  • Wheat etc..

Sometimes depending on your food intolerance, you could consume a less amount of that specific food, without having any reaction. On the other hand, when you are really suffering from food allergy then even a very small amount of the problem food can worsen the situation.

Role of Gluten:

Gluten Food

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People who are suffering from an ailment called celiac disease, need to avoid gluten (protein). A few types of grains are an ideal solution of this gluten problem. If people with certain problems consume gluten food, they could injure their small intestine.

According to McGee people with celiac effect have more careful about their gluten intake in recent years. Nevertheless people with no celiac ailment can also react in a similar manner to gluten, which leads to skin rashes (also known as dermatitis herpetiformis) sometimes. This types of rashes mostly appear among people with celiac diseases.

Allergies and Eczema:

Allergies and Eczema

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Allergens which can lead to eczema / rashes, can be anything from  the weather to the condition of your skin. Almost one third of the kids suffering from eczema can also end up having food allergies. Sometimes we get confused about the symptoms of these problems.

According to MD, director of pediatric dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston Daniela Kroshinsky,usually kids who are suffering major eczema, have more chances of contracting food allergies. She also said “There is an increased association of food allergies in children with eczema, but the overwhelming majority of children with eczema do not have food allergies,”

Daniel Searing (MD, a pediatrician and assistant professor in the department of pediatrics, division of allergy and immunology at National Jewish Health in Denver) revealed that double blind (considered as gold standard of allergy testing), placebo controlled food challenges have come to a conclusion, that a topic dermatitis (typical type of eczema) can be  provoked by food allergens.

Various studies have revealed that the relationship between eczema and food allergies is rather twisted. It has been found that for a majority of people eating a food that can trigger food allergies in them does not automatically result in rashes on the skin. This form of reaction is more common among infants and people suffering from a severe case of eczema.

Usual signs of allergic eczema are:

  • Rough or red or even dry skin
  • Rashes
  • Cuts
  • Pain or a kind of burning sensation
  • Tender or even warm skin
  • Itching
  • bumps that are red in color which oozes , drains or appear crust like
  • Thickened or even scaly skin
  • Inflammation could also occurs

Few Causes of Allergic Eczema:

When people come in open contact with an allergen then allergic eczema can happen, which also popularly known as delayed allergy, since the reactions doesn’t appear right away. It takes almost 24-48 hours (1 to 2 days) to manifest.

A few usual causes for allergic eczema are:

  • Latex
  • Clothing dyes
  • A metal called nickel (mostly found in metal buttons, belt buckles, jeans, jewelry etc.)
  • Hair dye
  • Adhesives
  • Perfumes contained in cosmetics
  • Poison ivy or any other plant
  • Cleaning products
  • Substances like neomycin which are found in ointments or antibiotic creams

Sometimes exposure to sunlight, can cause allergic eczema to appear.

Featured Image by: Jeremy Noble

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