November 2, 2021

The Best Diets for Eczema

How watching what you eat can help control this common condition

A plate with potatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, sliced tomatoes and some kind of white dipping sauce

You’ve likely heard about the link between good health and what you eat, and the importance of changing your diet when there’s a problem. For example, if you have elevated cholesterol, you should go easy on cheese and red meat, both of which are known to be high in unhealthy saturated fat, and instead opt for lean poultry and veggies.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

If you have a skin condition like eczema (the most common type that you’ll also hear referred to as atopic dermatitis), can changing your diet help reduce symptoms like itchy or red skin?

Is there a connection between diet and eczema?

Sometimes. “Some people do have a specific intolerance or allergy to something in particular, and that can cause eczema outbreaks,” says family medicine specialist Saadia Hussain, MD, who likens it to someone whose asthma is triggered by allergies.

“If they come across a certain type of plant, something in the environment, or a certain type of animal dander, their asthma will act up. It’s the same thing with eczema,” says Dr. Hussain. “There could be something that their body just doesn’t react well to — and when that happens, they get an eczema outbreak.”

Digging into which specific foods trigger eczema symptoms is more difficult because everybody has different sensitivities. What bothers you and causes an eczema flare might not have a similar effect on someone else.

However, Dr. Hussain says, “anything with anti-inflammatory properties is good for most inflammatory skin conditions,” a category that includes eczema, psoriasis and dyshidrotic eczema. For example, spices like turmeric and ginger are known for their anti-inflammatory benefits.

Will a specific diet plan help control my eczema?

It depends. No diet or foods will cure eczema, but you can modify your diet to try to keep the symptoms at bay — much like you would changing your diet to address another chronic health condition. Also, drinking plenty of water (eight 8-ounce glasses a day) is key to eczema outbreak prevention and to help moisturize the skin for treatment.

Anti-inflammatory diet for eczema

Anti-inflammatory diets have many benefits, including pain relief and easing the symptoms of chronic conditions like fibromyalgia. These diets are also especially helpful to address the symptoms of eczema, which can be caused by stress, your immune system overreacting to allergens, or irritants in your environment.


Anti-inflammatory diets limit dairy, whole grains, red meat, flour and sugar, but emphasize vegetables and fish. In fact, going vegan (or keeping nearly a fully plant-based diet) is also a good route to take.

Mediterranean diet for eczema

Medical professionals have long praised the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, which stresses lots of veggies, whole grains, legumes, fish with omega-3 fatty acids (like salmon or tuna) and olive oil. “It’s more plant-based and includes a lot of fish,” says Dr. Hussain. “It’s got a lot of nuts, which is where you’re getting your protein from.”

Ayurvedic diet for eczema

The Ayurvedic diet is similar to the Mediterranean diet, in that it focuses on nonprocessed foods and includes fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. This diet, however, emphasizes spices like coriander, cumin, ginger, turmeric and cinnamon. “All of those are act as anti-inflammatories,” Dr. Hussain says. “All of these spices are very, very good for you.”

Eczema elimination diet

You may be wondering if an elimination diet — where you remove various foods from your meal rotation and then gradually add them back in to see what brings about an allergic reaction — might help. “There is no evidence to suggest food allergens are related to eczema,” says Dr. Hussain says. “So generally we do not recommend elimination diets, especially in kids.”

Dyshidrotic eczema diet

Unfortunately, there’s no specific diet that can help symptoms of dyshidrotic eczema, which is sometimes called dyshidrosis. This type of eczema is often found on your hands and is caused when your skin becomes dry and dehydrated from exposure to chemicals or things like hand sanitizer.

Dr. Hussain says the usual treatment is a high-potency topical steroid or UV therapy. However, because dyshidrotic eczema causes you to develop small blisters and cracked skin, you should stay away from acidic foods — for example, citrus fruits — that can cause additional surface irritation.

“If you’re going to be working with anything that has a high acid content, as with food preparation, we recommend putting on vinyl gloves,” says Dr. Hussain.


This kind of eczema can also be caused by sensitivities to substances like nickel, cobalt or chromium. While striving to remove just those minerals from your diet isn’t the best route to take, switching to a plant-based diet can help. “You’ll automatically end up eating foods that don’t have most of those types of minerals in it,” says Dr. Hussain.

Gluten-free diet

Gluten is found in many foods, including things that are expected — brown rice, bread, chips, baked goods — and surprising things like soy sauce and salad dressing. For some people, switching to a diet lower in gluten might be helpful. “Gluten can worsen everything,” says Dr. Hussain. “Anytime people have chronic GI issues or skin issues, and they’ve been worked up and everything is negative, the next thing I tell them to do is try to cut gluten out of their diet. Sometimes just doing a gluten-free diet, you might notice that your skin or your chronic GI condition gets better.”

Above all, watching what you eat goes back to making good choices.

“If you’re eating healthy, you’re trying to stick to something that doesn’t have preservatives, isn’t manufactured and isn’t packaged,” says Dr. Hussain. “When you go to the grocery store, stick to the periphery when you shop. The first thing you see when you walk into a store is fruits and vegetables. Then you hit the dairy section, and then the meats and poultry, and then you’re out the door.”

However, Dr. Hussain stresses that pairing a well-balanced diet with regular exercise is always the best route to take.

“If you try to do that, and make it a part of your lifestyle, it’s going to help you with every disease,” says Dr. Hussain. “That includes eczema. That includes your risk of heart disease and diabetes, as well as high blood pressure and mental health problems. Our body was not built to be sedentary, and our bodies were not built to put all these processed foods into them.”

Related Articles

Person applies lotion to knuckles on hand at first sign on eczema.
March 15, 2023
Here’s What’s Causing Your Eczema Flare-Up (and How To Prevent It)

Eczema triggers differ, but there are some key ways to manage and prevent future flare-ups

Two people scratching eczema areas on arms.
March 1, 2023
Why Eczema Itch Is So Intense — and How To Stop It

From hyperactive immune response to disordered nerve connections, the itch is real

taking sheets off bed to wash them
February 16, 2023
How Often You Should Wash Your Sheets (and the Gross Reasons Why)

You’re sharing your bed with dust mites, bacteria and lots of dead skin

Ginger Tea health benefits
January 31, 2023
Why Ginger Offers Health Benefits

Pain relief and nausea reduction are just two of this root’s many positive attributes

Applying moisturizer to clean skin in his morning bathroom routine.
December 14, 2022
How To Tell if Your Skin Barrier Is Damaged and What To Do About It

It’s like a protective armor that keeps your skin healthy

Person in bathroom applying cream to face with other products in foreground.
November 17, 2022
The Steps for a Basic, Everyday Skin Care Routine

From cleansers to sunscreen, here’s your beginner’s guide to everyday skin care

Woman in workout clothes does a lunge stretch in her living room as her cat looks on
July 8, 2022
Natural Remedies for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Diet and exercise are your best first steps

man itching skin
August 23, 2021
Do You Itch? Know the Signs of an Underlying Medical Problem

Dry skin is usually to blame, but not always

Trending Topics

group of hands holding different beverages
November 14, 2023
10 Myths About Drinking Alcohol You Should Stop Repeating

Coffee won’t cure a hangover and you definitely shouldn’t mix your cocktail with an energy drink

Person applies moisturizer as part of their skin care routine after a shower.
November 10, 2023
Korean Skin Care Routines: What You Need To Know

Focus on the philosophy — replenishing and respecting your skin — not necessarily the steps

glass of cherry juice with cherries on table
November 8, 2023
Sleepy Girl Mocktail: What’s in It and Does It Really Make You Sleep Better?

This social media sleep hack with tart cherry juice and magnesium could be worth a try