Because eating certain foods may trigger eczema flare-ups in different people, you may be able to reduce your symptoms by finding an eating plan that works for you.

Many people who have eczema also have food allergies or sensitivities. However, everyone is different, and discovering your personal food needs is important to minimize issues with allergies and eczema. Identifying and avoiding known allergens may also help reduce symptoms. No single diet can manage eczema for everyone.

There are many triggers for eczema outside of what you eat, including:

  • stress
  • topical products
  • environment

This may make it harder to determine the cause of your outbreaks.

Eating certain foods doesn’t appear to cause eczema, although it may trigger a flare-up if you already have the condition. Specific eating plans, such as an anti-inflammatory and Mediterranean diet, may benefit people with eczema. Other eating plants, such as a dyshidrotic diet, help manage symptoms of this specific type of eczema.

There’s no one-size-fits-all diet for eczema, though eating a diet rich in antioxidants may help reduce symptoms by supporting your overall health.

Some eating plans are based on principles you may find helpful in managing your symptoms. These include:

Dyshidrotic diet

The dyshidrotic diet may help manage dyshidrotic eczema.

Dyshidrotic eczema is characterized by tiny blisters on your hands and feet. Like other forms of eczema, its cause is unknown. Allergens, including food allergens, may influence flare-ups.

Exposure to nickel and cobalt may trigger or worsen symptoms of dyshidrotic eczema. Many foods may contain these metals in trace amounts. Nickel and cobalt may be found in:

  • whole grains, including wheat, oats, and buckwheat
  • legumes such as chickpeas and soy products
  • nuts and seeds, especially Brazil nuts and flaxseeds
  • meat, especially liver and other organ meats
  • dairy products, including milk
  • fruits and vegetables such as cantaloupe and potatoes
  • cocoa and chocolate
  • tea and coffee

A dyshidrotic diet involves limiting foods that may contain these elements to help reduce flare-ups among people with hypersensitivity to these metals.

There hasn’t been much research on low nickel and low cobalt diets for eczema. Still, the American Academy of Dermatology Association notes that some dermatologists may recommend a diet that assigns point values to food and drinks with these metals based on the amount of metal present. Then, people with these hypersensitivities track the points for what they consume to avoid going over a certain number.

Foods high in vitamin C may help reduce nickel absorption, so eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables may help.

These include:

  • bell peppers
  • oranges
  • strawberries
  • broccoli
  • tomatoes

Elimination diet

An elimination diet may help those who don’t know their eczema triggers. A recent research review found that the diet may slightly lower eczema severity in some people, though more studies are needed.

An elimination diet involves removing potential food triggers from your diet for a time and adding them slowly, one at a time, to monitor symptoms. It’s important to work with a dietitian to plan for an elimination diet to ensure you get enough nutrients.

A 2017 survey of participants with eczema suggests that some foods were more likely to contribute to flare-ups for more people, including:

Participants also noted that adding vegetables and organic foods to their diet sometimes improved symptoms.

A gluten-free diet

Research suggests that celiac disease and eczema seem to go hand in hand for some people. This may be because of the genetic link between the disorders. Celiac disease is treated by removing gluten from the diet. If you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, in addition to eczema, you may see an improvement in your skin if you eliminate gluten.

Gluten-free food has become very popular, and many foods are labeled gluten-free. Many wheat, rye, and barley products also have gluten-free substitutes available to buy.

A little imagination goes a long way here. For example, you can use potato flakes instead of bread crumbs to coat chicken cutlets and almond flour instead of wheat flour for baking.

Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet is based on an eating plan common in the Mediterranean, in countries such as Greece, Italy, and Turkey. The diet emphasizes whole foods, plant-based foods, and lean protein over processed foods. It typically also limits the consumption of red meat and alcohol to a moderate amount.

This diet emphasizes eating:

It also includes moderate amounts of red wine, which contains the plant compound quercetin, consumed with meals. While little research supports the benefits of the Mediterranean diet for eczema, the omega-3 fatty acids and quercetin present in the diet may help lower inflammation.

Anti-inflammatory diet

This food plan focuses on eliminating foods that increase inflammation and eating fiber-rich foods.

Note that there’s no single anti-inflammatory diet, as a particular food may cause inflammation in one person but not another. In general, though, this diet places a strong emphasis on:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • legumes
  • healthy fats such as olive oil
  • fish, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids

Heavily processed foods are limited in this food plan. You’ll also eat less meat on this diet.

An anti-inflammatory diet may help lower inflammation in your body, although research on eczema is mixed.

Certain foods may help with eczema even if you don’t follow a specific diet. Still, keep in mind any food allergies or sensitivities you have. Foods considered eczema-friendly may trigger a flare-up in those with an allergy to them.

In general, beneficial foods for eczema may include:

Fatty fish

You may be able to reduce your eczema symptoms by eating fatty fish such as salmon and herring. Fish oil contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory. You may also consider taking a fish oil supplement, though more research is needed on its benefits for eczema.

Your diet is your body’s main source of omega-3 fatty acids. It’s best to consume them through food rather than supplements if you can.

Foods containing quercetin

Quercetin is a plant-based flavonoid. These natural compounds help give many flowers, fruits, and vegetables their rich color. Quercetin is also a powerful antioxidant and may lower inflammation in your body.

Although more studies on people need to be done, some test tube research suggests that quercetin may benefit inflammatory skin diseases such as eczema. But more research in humans is needed.

Foods high in quercetin include:

Foods containing probiotics

Probiotic foods, such as yogurt, contain live cultures that affect your gut bacteria and help support a strong immune system. This may help reduce flare-ups or allergic reactions.

Probiotic-rich foods include:

  • miso soup
  • naturally fermented pickles
  • unpasteurized sauerkraut
  • kombucha
  • kefir
  • tempeh

What you eat may not directly cause eczema, but it can worsen or cause symptoms to flare up. This is especially true if you eat a food you’re allergic or sensitive to.

Not everyone will have issues with the foods listed below, but common food allergies associated with eczema include:

Many triggers may bring on eczema-related symptoms, including what you eat. There isn’t a single diet that reduces eczema symptoms in everyone, but a good rule of thumb is avoiding foods that seem to worsen your symptoms.

Focus on a nutritious diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein. This may help reduce eczema flare-ups.