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Foods to Avoid When You Have Atopic Dermatitis

author image August McLaughlin
August McLaughlin is a certified nutritionist and health writer with more than nine years of professional experience. Her work has been featured in various magazines such as "Healthy Aging," "CitySmart," "IAmThatGirl" and "ULM." She holds specializations in eating disorders, healthy weight management and sports nutrition. She is currently completing her second cookbook and Weight Limit—a series of body image/nutrition-related PSAs.
Foods to Avoid When You Have Atopic Dermatitis
Eczema on skin. Photo Credit: PAULandLARA/iStock/Getty Images

Atopic dermatitis, also called eczema, is a condition that causes inflammation, itchy patches, fluid-filled bumps and scales on your skin. It affects roughly 1 to 10 percent of infants, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, and often dissipates during childhood or young adulthood. In addition to positive skin hygiene, avoiding potential triggers and irritants such as harsh soaps, eating a healthy diet and limiting certain foods may help reduce your symptoms.

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Fatty Meats

Sausages are fatty meats.
Sausages are fatty meats. Photo Credit: Joe Gough/iStock/Getty Images

Fatty meats, such as beef, lamb and sausage, contribute rich amounts of saturated fats, which may promote inflammation. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends that people with atopic dermatitis consume fewer saturated fat sources, including red meat. Try replacing fatty meats in your diet with cold-water fish. The omega-3 fatty acids prevalent in fish such as salmon, tuna, herring and sardines may provide anti-inflammatory properties.

Dairy Products

Milk is a dairy product.
Milk is a dairy product. Photo Credit: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Dairy products, though valuable sources of protein, calcium and vitamin D, may trigger or worsen atopic dermatitis symptoms in some people. According to a report published in "Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics" in January 2008, 20 percent of people with lactose intolerance -- a relatively common food sensitivity -- experience non-digestive symptoms, such as eczema. Like fatty meats, whole milk and high-fat cheeses contribute rich amounts of saturated fat. Try replacing dairy products with soy-based or other nondairy equivalents.

Enriched Flour

Pasta has enriched flour.
Pasta has enriched flour. Photo Credit: Jupiterimages/ Images

Enriched flour products, such as white bread and enriched pasta, digest less efficiently and contain fewer nutrients than whole-grain foods. As a result, choosing whole grains over enriched foods may strengthen your immune system and digestive health. Refined foods also contribute to inflammation, according to the UMMC, and may increase dermatitis symptoms. Before purchasing bread, bagels, tortillas, pasta and breakfast cereals, check ingredient lists to ensure that whole grains are listed as main ingredients.

Sugary Sweets

Candy is a sugary sweet.
Candy is a sugary sweet. Photo Credit: Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images

Added sugars, such as cane sugar, sucrose, maltose, dextrose, honey and corn syrup, add calories and sweet flavor but few dietary benefits to foods. The UMMC recommends limiting your sugar intake for reduced dermatitis symptoms. To cut back on sugar, drink water, herbal tea or pure juices instead of sugary soft drinks. Add less sugar to your coffee, tea and cereals, or replace sugar with stevia--a plant-based, noncaloric sweetener that provides antioxidant benefits. Other common sources of added sugars include candy, milk chocolate, pancake syrup, frosting, ice cream, jelly and commercially prepared cookies, cakes, pie and pastries.

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