Tips for Managing Eczema without Drugs – Part III

Tips for Managing Eczema without Drugs – Part III

Jennie Lyon

Tips for Managing Eczema without Drugs – Part III

This is Part III of our Tips for Managing Eczema without Drugs Series. In Part I ( we looked at bathing and moisturizing. In Part II ( we examined fabrics, climate and temperature, and vitamin supplementation. We’re using this series to explore and reveal the benefits or misconceptions about alternative eczema therapies.

Avoiding Allergens & Triggers

While not all patients with atopic dermatitis (eczema) have allergic triggers, many do. There is evidence to support that airborne proteins, like dust mites, could affect the skin barrier function in many eczema sufferers. In the past it was common that dermatologists recommended special pillowcases and mattress covers in order to reduce allergen exposure. That’s no longer common practice due to a lack of clear evidence, but it’s an option worth exploring for sensitive patients.  Many find relief from bed encasing and you can find quality encasements at

Allergens and triggers may include:

  • Bubble bath
  • Certain bacteria like Staphylococcusaureus
  • Certain Fungi
  • Contact with juices from fresh fruits, meats, vegetables
  • Dandruff
  • Disinfectants like chlorine
  • High and low humidity
  • Hot weather
  • House dust mites
  • Molds
  • Perspiration from exercise
  • Pets (cats and dogs)
  • Pollens (seasonal)
  • Shampoos, dish-washing liquids
  • Soaps and detergents
  • Viruses


While the exact influence of food exposure on eczema remains unclear, it’s considered by many to be the “root cause” of atopic dermatitis/eczema. Studies support that approximately 80% of food associations could be the underlying cause for eczema flares. Common food allergens are:

  • Dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Soy products
  • Wheat
  • Gluten
  • There is some evidence to support avoidance of eggs as early on as in infancy. However, it’s possible that these food allergies could disappear or dissipate once the atopic dermatitis/eczema is better controlled.

Gluten Avoidance

Where once gluten was only thought to be a problem for those suffering from celiac disease, we’re coming to understand that the inflammation that gluten causes for many people can be a trigger for eczema. Even though the wide spread discussion about gluten only came about in the 2000s, in 1985 a small study found that 30% of adults with eczema also had detectable serum IgG antibodies to gliadin (a component of gluten), compared to only 6.5% of the general population. Later studies started to show that out of 1,000 patients with celiac disease, eczema occurred about three times more often in these patients than in the general population.

Allergy Testing

A third of eczema sufferers have verifiable hypersensitivity food allergies (Type I). Rapid onset reactions like urticaria, angioedema, or anaphylaxis are Type I reactions, though these immediate reactions are thought to be separate from eczema reactions that are generally delayed by 6 to 48 hours after the time of exposure. It’s worth being tested for food allergies.

Skin Prick Testing (SPT)

In the case of skin prick testing (SPT), negative tests help to rule out allergy. Positive tests indicate sensitivity but not the specific kind; the sensitivity might not result in a skin reaction.

Atopy Patch Tests (APT)

In this case, the test is administered by applying patch test preparations of foods directly to the skin for 24–48 hours. This method is used to assess for Type IV hypersensitivity. This more commonly yields skin reactions. However, atopic dermatitis flares have had conflicting results so aren’t routinely recommended.

Elimination Diet

An elimination diet is one of the best ways to check for oral food allergies. If you’re suffering from eczema, food intolerances, or any other sensitivities, an elimination diet could be the most helpful dietary experiment you’ll ever try. An elimination diet can help you determine what foods are not compatible with your system because of enzyme deficiency, microbial imbalance, motility issues, detoxification abnormalities, intestinal permeability, inflammation, etc.  Please visit WebMD for an article explaining the elimination diet at

Check back for Part IV of our Tips for Managing Eczema without Drugs series.