Eczema is a long-term condition that causes the skin to become itchy, red, dry and cracked. It varies in severity – some people are only mildly affected but severe symptoms can include cracked, sore, bleeding and inflamed skin.
In the UK, around one in five children and one in 12 adults have eczema. One in every ten cases of eczema is triggered by food allergy. The most common food triggers are cow’s milk and eggs, but many other foods including soya, wheat, fish, nuts, citrus fruit, chocolate, peanuts and food colourings can act as triggers. When treating eczema, cow’s milk allergy should be considered.
The only reliable treatment for cow’s milk allergy is to avoid all cow’s milk and dairy products:
- Milk Powder
- Milk drinks
- Margarine made with dairy fat
- Ice cream
People with cow’s milk allergy should also avoid ‘hidden’ ingredients:
- Hydrolysed casein
- Skimmed milk
- Skimmed milk powder
- Milk solids
- Non-fat milk
- Whey syrup sweetener
- Milk sugar solids
Some of these ingredients can be difficult to avoid as they are commonly used in bread, processed cereals, instant soups, margarine, salad dressings, sweets, cake mix and even crisps. Most supermarkets now produce ‘free-from’ lists of products and many supermarkets also have their own label free-from range. There are even iPhone and android apps available to help you identify ingredients by scanning the product bar code.
There are plenty of alternatives: soya ice creams, spreads and yoghurts and dairy-free cheeses. Calcium-enriched soya, rice and oat milks can be used as alternatives to cow’s milk.
To help eczema treatment, it’s also advisable to avoid sugary foods and sugar/syrups in drinks. This is because sugar fuels inflammation and skin with eczema is essentially inflamed so it’s best to steer clear of sugary foods.
Read more about Allergies.