Food Allergy And Skin

May 3, 2010

There are many in the medical profession who do not think food allergy is a major cause of eczema/atopic dermatitis.  That might be true for adults, but about 37% of children with eczema have at least one food allergy.  If you look at the statistics in reverse, you find that about 90% of children with food allergy have eczema.   In general, it is worthwhile to do food allergy testing on an infant or young child with severe eczema.  If a particular food is identified,  a trial elimination diet should be pursued to determine the impact of the elimination on the condition of the skin.

Another skin condition associated with food allergy is hives.  Hives can occur suddenly in an otherwise well person.  This form of hives is called acute hives.  If hives last more than 6 weeks they are called chronic hives.

A food can be identified as the cause in about 20% of cases of acute hives.  In this setting, if food is responsible, it generally occurs within minutes to 1-2 hours consumption of the food.  A detailed history will often reveal one or more suspect foods and allergy testing should be done to verify whether or not a person is allergic to any of those foods.

When a person has chronic hives lasting more than 6 weeks, a much smaller percentage have an associated food allergy.  Only about 4% of children with chronic hives have a food allergy and about 1.4% of adults with chronic hives have a food allergy.  Whether or not it is necessary to do food allergy testing in the setting of chronic hives depends on the patient’s history.

Note: The content of this blog is for informational purposes only and is not meant as specific medical advice for a specific person.   If you have a medical problem, please contact your doctor.

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