Brittany Hambleton
Brittany Hambleton
June 19, 2024 ·  7 min read

How A Dietary Change Became One Woman’s Long Searched Answer For Eczema

Millions of Americans suffer from atopic dermatitis, more commonly known as eczema. According to the National Eczema Association, one in ten Americans will develop the condition during their lifetime [1].

A lot of research has gone into understanding eczema over the last several years, and scientists have answered some important questions. Unfortunately, they have still not come up with a cure. One young woman, who had struggled with eczema for most of her life, finally found relief when she stopped looking for topical treatments, and instead changed her diet.

Victoria Goes Vegan

Vegan health food concept for  high fibre diet with fruit, vegetables, cereals, whole wheat pasta, grains, legumes, herbs. Foods high in antioxidants  and vitamins. Immune system boosting. Flat lay.
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Victoria Jinks is a 28-year-old from the UK. She had been suffering with severe eczema since she was born. Her skin was so bad that she would cover up with long sleeves on the hot summer days. She tried several ointments and creams, and more often than not they made her skin condition even worse. Some days, she had to miss work because her skin was so itchy it started to bleed.

In 2017 she decided to stop eating meat to see if it would help her skin. Not long after that, she decided to switch to a completely vegan lifestyle. Two months after cutting out all meat, dairy, and other animal products, her skin began to clear up for the first time in her life.

“I could never wear nice clothes during summer periods and I would have to wear turtle necks and tights constantly,Ms. Jinks said. “No matter what the weather was, I was always covered up which made it ten times worse.” [2]

She described how her skin could make her very depressed, and there were days that she couldn’t even go to work because it was so bad. It was not until she attempted to treat her skin from the inside that she finally saw results.

Read More: Psoriasis and Eczema Sufferer Created Diet That ‘Cured Her’ and is Helping Thousands of Sufferers

Change of Diet

Fruits, berries, nuts, seeds top view on rustic wooden background.Diet, detox, superfood concept.
Source: Shutterstock

“Giving up meat and dairy has changed my life, the animals and helped the planet, maybe only a little bit but I’m proud I’ve done my bit,” she said. “I feel great now, I feel “normal” and it’s incredible. I never thought I would ever feel comfortable in my own body but I am finally here.” [2]

She says that going vegan may not help everyone, and it won’t necessarily cure eczema, but it’s helped her immensely. She is now encouraging others who are struggling with the condition to try giving up meat and dairy. “You’re not only helping yourself, you’re helping to not support the awful meat and dairy industry and you’ve made a huge change in saving our beautiful earth.” [2]

Eczema and Allergies

Young woman with skin allergy on color background
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As of now, there is not a lot of conclusive evidence to show that a plant-based diet can ‘cure’ eczema. There have, however, been a few early studies to show that it can be an effective treatment for the skin condition [3]. For more information, see the video below.

This leads to the next question: can certain foods trigger eczema? The answer appears to be yes. Food allergies are often a related health condition of eczema. Researchers have found that up to thirty percent of people with the condition are also allergic to certain foods [4].  Sometimes, eczema is the first sign of atopy (the hereditary tendency toward eczema, allergies, and asthma), followed by food allergies, hay fever, and asthma. This is called the “atopic march” [5].

Some common food allergies that are associated with eczema include:

  • Cow’s milk
  • Eggs
  • Soy products
  • Gluten 
  • Nuts 
  • Fish
  • Shellfish

Eating these foods does not appear to actually cause eczema, but it can cause a flare-up if you already have the condition. It is also important to keep in mind that different people will react to different foods. Not every food will necessarily be a trigger for you, but cutting out those that cause a reaction is an important step in managing your eczema [6].

An Eczema Diet

Dermatitis, eczema, allergy, psoriasis concept. Annoyed middle-aged man in white t-shirt scratching itch on his arm, grey studio background. Bearded man itching rash on his elbow, copy space
Source: Shutterstock

While certain foods may trigger a reaction, others can actually help to ease symptoms. The experts at the National Eczema Association recommend an anti-inflammatory diet to help manage eczema. Their advice is as follows:

Fat Type is Important

Trans fats, like the ones found in hydrogenated oils, some margarine, and processed or fried foods, can increase the amount of inflammation in your body. Saturated fats from red meats, full-fat dairy, and other animal sources can also cause inflammation.

Omega-3 fats, on the other hand, can reduce inflammation. Oily fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, and tuna, are all high in omega-3s. Plant-based sources include flaxseed, walnuts, and some leafy green vegetables. Monounsaturated fats from avocado and olive oil are also anti-inflammatory. 

It is also important to limit the amount of omega-6 fats that you eat since these can promote inflammation. High amounts of omega-6s are present in vegetable oils like corn, safflower, and cottonseed oil [7].

Swap Out Your Carbohydrates

The Association also recommends ditching the refined carbohydrates found in sugary, processed foods. Instead, opt for fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These foods are full of powerful antioxidants that destroy inflammation-causing free radicals [7].

A Word on Probiotics

There is some research looking at the role of probiotics as part of eczema treatment, but the results have been mixed. The National Eczema Association has said that more study needs to be done in order to understand how probiotics can benefit people with eczema [8].

Other Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Coffee and green tea also provide a good dose of antioxidants, however, due to their caffeine content they should be consumed in moderation. Turmeric and ginger also help to reduce inflammation in the body, and could possibly reduce eczema flare-ups [7].

Read More: 9 Foods That Could Make Eczema Worse (And Many That Can Help)

Supplements for Eczema

Dietary supplement, asian young woman, girl hand holding orange medical pill, take or eat vitamin C, D for treatment for skin, hair and nail strengthen with glass of pure water at home, healthcare.
Source: Shutterstock

In addition to a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet, there are some supplements that may help ease your eczema:

Vitamin D

essential vitamins and minerals for humans. doctor recommends taking vitamin D. doctor talks about the benefits of vitamin D. D Vitamin - Health Concept. D alphabet on wood cube.
Source: Shutterstock

Researchers still do not fully understand the relationship between vitamin D and eczema. A vitamin D supplement has, however, been shown to help. This is particularly true for people whose skin worsens in the winter months [9].

Another study also found that children with a vitamin D deficiency had more severe eczema [10].

Vitamin D requirements vary depending on age. It is also possible to take too much since it is fat-soluble. Be sure to discuss supplementation with your doctor.

Vitamin E

Dietary supplement or sick, asian young woman, girl hold pills, drugs medical tablet on hand pouring capsules from medication bottle, take vitamin for treatment for skin, hair at home, healthcare.
Source: Shutterstock

Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant. Some studies have shown that it can reduce the levels of IgE antibodies in people with eczema. This can reduce flare-ups [11].

As with vitamin D, talk to your doctor before beginning a vitamin E supplement, as it is also fat-soluble.

Omega-3 Oils

Capsules of cod liver oil arranged in a fish shape on white wooden background
Source: Shutterstock

If you don’t love eating fish, an EPA/DHA omega-3 supplement may be a good option for you. There have been some promising studies showing that omega-3 supplementation has helped ease eczema, but more study is needed [12]. If you are seeking a supplemental plant-based source of EPA and DHA, look got an algae-based omega-3 oil.

Trial and Error

Diet. Nutrition. Healthy Eating, Lifestyle. Close Up Of Happy Smiling Woman Taking Pill With Cod Liver Oil Omega-3 In Morning. Vitamin D, E, A Fish Oil Capsules
Source: Shutterstock

Just as Victoria Jinks said, no one diet is going to work for everyone. It may take some time and some trial and error before you figure out what’s best for you.

If you are suffering from any kind of skin condition and topical treatments aren’t working, perhaps it’s time to look at your diet. Talk with your doctor, who can help you to determine which foods are triggering your skin issues. They can then work with you to develop a personalized diet plan to control the condition.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.

Editors Note (09/22/2020): A version of this article was originally published in July 2018, but has been republished to reflect current editorial standards on The Hearty Soul. Improved referecings and sources have been made throughout for clarity and accuracy.

Read More: Turmeric Face Mask For Rosacea, Acne, Eczema and Dark Circle