Eczema Triggers and Allergic Reactions in Children

Expert Pediatrics Q&A

A baby with hives
Unlike eczema, hives are a common food allergy symptom. Photo by Getty Images

Since eczema normally comes and goes and many children can go days or weeks with clear skin, it can be difficult to figure out what is triggering these kinds of eczema outbreaks.

Eczema and Food Allergies

Although the role of food allergies and eczema is controversial, there is no good reason why a lactose-free formula would help a child's eczema. If a child did have an allergy to a baby formula, it would likely be to either the milk proteins or soy proteins and not to lactose, which is a sugar.

The lactose-free formula may have improved other symptoms, such as gas, fussiness, or diarrhea, but it is unlikely that it would have made his eczema better, so that may have been a coincidence.

If you really think that your baby's formula, including a milk-based and soy formula, is making his eczema worse, then you might talk to your pediatrician about trying a hypoallergenic formula, such as Nutramigen or Alimentum.

Allergy testing, using a blood test like the Immunocap, could be another option.

It is thought that "In some sensitized patients, particularly infants and young children, food allergens can induce urticarial lesions, itching, and eczematous flares, all of which may aggravate AD (atopic dermatitis)."

Other Eczema Triggers

Keep in mind that many experts still do not believe that food allergies are a big trigger for eczema, though, so most parents should not go out of their way to restrict their child's diet without talking to their pediatrician first.

Of course, if your child's eczema gets worse every time you give your child something to eat or drink, then it likely is a trigger for him and you should avoid it and talk to your pediatrician about food allergies.

And some kids do have both food allergies and eczema, but surprisingly, they don't seem to affect each other.

You could also see your pediatrician and review our guide to eczema to make sure you are doing everything you can to control and prevent your child's eczema by avoiding triggers and using moisturizers and topical steroids, etc.


Effective therapy of childhood atopic dermatitis allays food allergy concerns. Thompson MM - J Am Acad Dermatol - 01-AUG-2005; 53(2 Suppl 2): S214-9

National Institutes of Allergy and In. Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States: Report of the NIAID-sponsored Expert Panel. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. December 2010. Volume 126, Issue 6, Supplement, Pages S1–S58

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