Best Diet for Eczema

Chad Birt

Written by Chad Birt on Thu Nov 02 2023.

Slicing salmon.

Eczema is one of the most common types of dermatitis (skin inflammation), affecting up to 31 million Americans. There’s no cure, but there are things you can do to reduce flare-ups and prevent uncomfortable symptoms. One of the best places to start is by reevaluating your diet. 

“Diet can have a significant impact on the health of your skin,” explains Mary Ellen-Sabat, a registered dietitian nutritionist and ACE Certified trainer. “Nutrients from food play a role in maintaining skin structure, moisture balance, and overall appearance. Certain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants support skin health, while some dietary choices can exacerbate skin conditions like eczema.”

Food doesn’t cause eczema, but eating certain ingredients can make your symptoms worse. In this article, we take a closer look at eczema triggers and discuss the best diet for eczema. 

What You’ll Need

It’s important to keep a food journal if you have eczema. Writing down the snacks and meals that you eat can provide key insights into the specific foods that trigger your symptoms. 

“Common triggers include dairy products, gluten, soy, eggs, and some types of nuts,” Sabat says. “However, triggers can be highly individualized so it’s important to pay attention to how your body responds to different foods.”

All you need to keep a food journal is a notebook and a pen or pencil. There are also food journal apps, like MyFitnessPal, Food Diary See How You Eat, and Ate Food Journal

Steps to Determine the Best Diet for Eczema

Step 1: Visit Your Doctor

Before adding or subtracting foods from your or your loved one’s diet, visit the doctor.

“Since eczema involves skin inflammation, it can be beneficial to identify and avoid foods that trigger inflammation in your body,” explains Sabat. “But the specific triggers can vary among individuals, so it’s important to work with a healthcare professional. They can help you pinpoint potential triggers and safely eliminate them from your diet.”

Eczema is a complex condition that can be triggered by various things, including hair and skin products, prescription medication, and environmental factors. Your healthcare provider can monitor your symptoms over time and make recommendations to prevent them from getting worse.

Step 2: Avoid Food Triggers

Everyone’s eczema triggers vary, but there are several foods, in particular, that you may want to avoid, including:

Dairy products

About 30% of people with eczema also have a food allergy. If you have eczema and eat something that you’re allergic to, you’re more likely to develop severe symptoms. 

Since dairy is one of the most common food allergies, it makes sense to eliminate it from your diet. However, you may not want to avoid it altogether. Dairy has essential nutrients that support strong bones and a healthy heart. As with many things in life, moderation is key.


The link between gluten and eczema isn’t fully understood. However people with celiac disease may want to consider avoiding wheat products altogether.

Researchers aren’t sure why gluten-rich foods seem to trigger eczema flare-ups, but studies have found that people with gluten allergies are also more likely to have atopic dermatitis (a specific type of eczema). 

Processed foods

Processed foods are fun to snack on, but they have little nutritional value. They also “contain additives, preservatives, and trans fats that can trigger inflammation,” Sabat says. Regularly eating processed foods has been shown to alter gut bacteria, which is associated with inflammation.

Sugary foods

Sugary foods, like processed foods, offer little health benefit.  And, high sugar intake has been linked to increased inflammation, which can also impact skin health. 

Step 3: Eat Foods That Support Skin Health

“Foods that support skin health and have anti-inflammatory properties are generally beneficial for people with eczema,” says Sabat. Consider incorporating the following items into your snacks and meals:

Omega-3 fatty acids - Omega-3s are found in fatty fish (like salmon), flaxseeds, and walnuts. Omega-3s have anti-inflammatory effects. 

Fruits and vegetables - These are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that promote skin health.

Probiotic-rich foods - “Fermented foods like yogurt and kefir can support gut health, potentially influencing skin conditions,” Sabat explains.

Whole grains - Substitute refined grains, like white rice, white bread, and white flour with whole grains like quinoa and brown rice.

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Step 4: Try a Specific Diet

Substituting or eliminating certain foods can be a time-consuming and confusing process, especially if you don’t have a background in nutrition. To make things easier, consider trying a specific diet.

“Both the Mediterranean and Ayurvedic diets emphasize whole foods, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats,” Sabat says. These foods can be beneficial for overall health, including skin health, but individual responses can vary.”

Likewise, you may benefit from an elimination diet. “Under the guidance of a healthcare professional, you can try eliminating certain foods to see if they impact your eczema symptoms,” adds Sabat.

Step 5: Stay Hydrated

Skin is the body’s largest organ. Make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day to support its function and appearance.

Water improves your circulation, helps flush toxins from your body, and maintains your skin’s elasticity. These factors won’t necessarily impact your eczema directly, but they can help minimize the severity of flare-ups. 

Step 6: Ask For Help From a Qualified Professional

Changing your diet can be challenging, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

“Working with a registered dietitian or a healthcare professional with expertise in dermatology and nutrition can be highly beneficial,” Sabat says. “They can help you identify potential triggers, create a personalized diet plan, and monitor your progress.”

Step 7: Listen to Your Body

Eczema affects everyone differently and researchers are still trying to understand the link between diet and inflammation. As a result, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to the best diet for eczema.

The best thing you can do is “pay attention to how your skin responds to different foods,” explains Sabat. By tracking your symptoms after snacks and meals, you can identify ingredients that make your flare-ups worse. You can then use that information to reduce the incidence of flare-ups and feel your best. 

Best Diet for Eczema - Commonly Asked Questions

1) Do certain foods cause eczema?

No. There’s no evidence that specific foods cause eczema. That said, certain foods and spices may cause your symptoms to worsen or “flare up”. By eliminating these triggers from your diet, you can reduce uncomfortable symptoms and keep your skin in optimal condition.

2) Why is it so hard to identify eczema triggers?

Identifying eczema triggers is challenging because there isn’t a specific test (or tests) that screen for them. Furthermore, while a certain food might trigger skin inflammation in one person, it might have no effect on another and vice versa. 

The recommendations in this article are only guidelines. They won’t necessarily work for everyone. However, by familiarizing yourself with potential food triggers, you can make smarter diet decisions. 

3) Can eating a different diet cure my eczema?

Eating a healthy diet won’t cure your eczema, but it may be able to reduce flare-ups and improve your quality of life.

Carewell Tip

Before making any diet changes, it's important to talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian first.

Have Questions About Diet or Nutrition? Contact us!

We regularly help family caregivers and their loved ones with all things diet and nutrition. Whether you need help finding a specific product or simply want some suggestions, we’re standing by and here to assist. Call (800) 696-2273 or send an email to

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Chad Birt
Chad Birt

Chad Birt is a freelance medical writer who resides in Astoria, Oregon. When he isn't behind a keyboard, you can find him hiking, camping, or birdwatching with his wife Ella and their two dogs, Diane and Thoreau.