What is eczema? The word eczema comes from the Greek word for boiling, a good descriptive term for this itchy, inflammatory skin condition. Atopic eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, has both genetic and environmental causes. The first step in treating atopic eczema is to identify if there is an environmental cause or trigger - such as a particular food (eg dairy), an airborne allergen (eg dust mites), a topical product (eg fabric softener) or a Staphylococcus aureaus colonisation on the skin. The most common food triggers are milk, eggs, wheat, citrus fruits, gluten, peanuts, fish, soy and chocolate. Food triggers can be identified by following an elimination diet - where you eliminate all potential triggers from your diet and then reintroduce them one at a time to see if they cause a reaction. However, as elimination diets, particularly in young children, are associated with the risk of malnutrition and increased psychological stress, functional testing for suspected allergens is advised.
© 2014 Sarah Walford