About 15 million Americans suffer from eczema, and yet the cause of eczema remains unknown. There are, however, certain triggers that cause eczema outbreaks, including foods. Since dairy products are often the cause for an outbreak, could they be your trigger?
The dry, red, itchy rash that accompanies eczema can be a real nuisance, so getting down to the bottom of what’s causing the allergic reaction and avoiding that particular thing is such a relief.
What is Eczema?
Eczema occurs most often in children and sometimes in young adults. People over 30 rarely get eczema, but it happens on occasion. It is essentially an allergic reaction to an irritant, whether it be something ingested or touched. Eczema is characterized by a dry, flaky, itchy rash that appears most commonly on the backs of the knees, insides of elbows, wrists, hands, feet and face.
A person could be allergic to certain chemicals, fabrics, animals, medicines, plants, foods, etc. and coming in contact with those things will trigger the rash. The good thing is that eczema isn’t contagious and can be treated with medicines, skin creams, steroidal injections or natural remedies and by avoiding triggers. For the sake of this article, we will examine eczema outbreaks as a result of eating dairy products.
Eczema vs. Dairy Intolerance
Eczema outbreaks due to ingesting milk and dairy products have nothing to do with being lactose intolerant or not. Lactose intolerant simply means that your bowel system doesn’t tolerate cow’s milk dairy products well, and they will quickly need to be expelled from the body to restore everything to normal.
Everyone who is lactose intolerant does not suffer from eczema, and vice versa. Eczema sufferers who are lactose intolerant should not confuse one symptom with the other. Eczema rashes are not a sign of lactose intolerance, and neither is lactose intolerance a sign that one’s eczema is caused by dairy products.
Eczema sufferers who are not lactose intolerant and have no digestive system reaction to eating dairy products may nevertheless be allergic to dairy products – and those products may be the trigger.
How can you be sure? The simple answer is, by trial and error. If you suspect that you or your child’s eczema is triggered by dairy products or just want to know what’s causing your outbreaks, consult your doctor who will perform test trials to see which foods or agents are responsible.
To do some testing of your own, try completely eliminating dairy products from your diet for six weeks to see how your body reacts. If eczema outbreaks cease thereafter, discontinue eating dairy altogether and perhaps try milk substitutes like soy or goat milk. Beware of milk products that may be hidden in packaged goods that you eat; check the food labels for words like casein, lactose or whey.
Breastfeeding and Eczema
To protect against eczema, especially when eczema is common among your family, mothers should breastfeed for the first three or four months, if possible. If the mother eats dairy products during the breastfeeding months, the baby could still have an allergic reaction since everything that goes into Mom’s body directly affects the baby.
Again, trial and error comes into play here until eczema triggers are discovered, and moms can substitute breast milk with soy milk formulas when breastfeeding isn’t possible. Always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment.