I’ve had eczema for as long as I can remember- or at least I thought I had eczema. Every winter during my childhood, eczema would plague my skin.
I would be afflicted with big, red, blotchy patches that stretched from my chin to my back, reaching as far as the bottoms of my feet. The patches would itch and burn, but mainly they stood out against my smooth olive skin.
I remember scheduling dermatologist appointments so many times a year, where my doctor would prescribe me cream after cream. When those didn’t work, he gave me steroids. When those didn’t work, I had to learn to deal with my condition on my own.
The only remedy that somewhat worked was salty ocean salt water, but living in New York where it is cold for nine months out of the year, the ocean’s water was not exactly available or a practical solution. As a result, I was stuck with my eczema and had to hope that time would heal it.
Fast forward to summer 2019, when I was diagnosed with celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to have an allergy to wheat, barley, and rye — specifically the protein found in those grains, gluten.
That meant I could kiss bread, pasta and delicious wafers goodbye – unless I wanted to face certain risks, including developing cancer, which can occur in celiac disease patients who chronically eat gluten. I was upset that I couldn’t enjoy many of the foods I had been eating my whole life.
I was forced to adopt a gluten-free diet which significantly involved clean eating. My diet changed to incorporate foods like meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts, yogurt and occasionally gluten-free pasta and bread.
With these subtle changes, I was less bloated and had less inflammation in my stomach. Slowly, I also started to notice the areas of my skin that had been inflicted by eczema started to be less itchy; the patches weren’t flaky anymore. Then, the redness started to go down and eventually disappeared.
Eczema is not caused by eating gluten, but rather is an autoimmune disorder that I genetically inherited. That said, eczema has been noted as a common side effect of eating gluten for those with celiac disease. While food allergies do not cause eczema, there is a link between them, especially in young children, which better explains my own experiences.
Research shows that 35% of children have food allergies that can cause flareups in their eczema. There is not much research yet on adult eczema and food allergies, but one can infer that the certain foods that can cause flareups in children can also transfer over to adults who have eczema.
If you have eczema and have been dealing with a similar problem, consult your doctor and ask them what they know about the link between food allergies and eczema. Your eczema problem could actually be a gluten problem.