My boyfriend, who has a long history of food allergies, has recently started to get the worst eczema. It is all over his hands, often cracked and bleeding, and has now spread up his arms, and is behind his knees/on his calves. He also has broken out in acne all over his back, which he used to have as a teenager but had since cleaned up.
He often has an outbreak in the winter, but we recently moved to Quebec where the climate is much drier and colder- it is way, way worse than ever before. I have even developed a bit of eczema on one of my hands for the first time in my life, presumably from the change in climate.
The BF eats a diet high in vegetables, meat, and fats- high metabolism, so he eats spoonfuls of almond butter throughout the whole day to stay full. Typical breakfast is hard boiled eggs and a smoothie, roasted veggies for a snack, coconut-milk and bone broth based soup for lunch, almond butter throughout the day, something meaty for dinner with 2+ sides of veggies, 1-2 pieces of dark chocolate for dessert. Lots of tea (herbal, green, and black) throughout the entire day. We have been putting shea butter, coconut oil, and lavender hydrosol on his skin every morning and night, and he wears cotton gloves to avoid scratching. We have been treating it religiously for 4 weeks and even though no changes in our diet have been made in a few months, it hasn't been getting better- if anything it has spread. He has already had one infection in his hand which we had to put an antibiotic cream on, and it would be surprising if he doesn't get more infections.
He went to the doctor, and was told to use a steroid cream, but he has used it in the past and it thins his skin very quickly, usually causing bleeding after 2-3 days. He is allergic to peanuts and fish, but hasn't had allergy testing done for a few years.
Anyone had an experience with eczema like this? Did they find that changing something in their diet helped? Advice for the accompanying acne, any ideas if there's a connection? Any topical treatments we should try while the winter is being terrorizing? Thanks!
UPDATE The eczema has recently taken a turn for the worse- over the last 4-5 days it has spread to covering most of his legs (esp thighs) and is all over his arms. It has started bleeding through his arms every night, even when we elastic-band cotton gloves onto his hands, so I think he skin must just be really thin and fragile now. He can't close his left hand anymore. It is pretty out of control, so we made a doctors appointment (dermatologist), but couldn't get in until next month. We have decided to take out all of the foods he was allergic too as a kid (eggs, dairy, nuts, shellfish, tomatoes, oranges, wheat (obv), soy) to see if it helps in the meantime. We have been putting anti-biotic cream we got from the pharmacy on the open sores/wounds to prevent inevitable infection. He is fully coated head-to-toe with shea butter every night now. I'm not sure what to do about omega-3's on our new diet though...should I order some fish-free pills? I'm a little hesitant to introduce something new while he is so bad, he has had reactions to supplements in the past that includes rashes, and that would just be the icing on the cake right now. Any ideas of foods that we currently would be eating or could introduce that we should increase or adjust??
UPDATE Turns out, he probably has a form of dermatitis, NOT just regular old eczema, which is why all the treatments have not been very affective. We need to be VERY careful about wheat contamination, and keep him well oiled in the meantime. For anyone else that may be experiencing this "out of control" eczema like this, definitely find a great dermatologist and discuss the possibility of other skin conditions- don't leave ANY details out. Turns out the rash that gave the diagnoses (I'm so glad my BF doesn't read this, I'm sorry honey here it goes) was on and around his anus (which he really didn't want to tell me about, and took him a couple months before he did and I convinced him to just man up and tell his doctor). Thanks for all the wonderful feedback though you guys, you got us both on Vit D supplements again and the BF is taking non-fish-oil Omega 3 supplements and experiencing no allergic reactions which is great! What an awesome group :)
asked byJenny_9 (11577)
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on January 16, 2012
at 05:51 AM
I have suffered eczema since I was a baby. The foods I know I react to:
Gluten, Tomatoes, Citrus fruit, Nuts (Especially but not exclusively peanuts), Dark chocolate, Red fruit, Anything with capsaicin, Coffee
I don't consume gluten, nuts, or coffee. Everything else, I consume very sparingly. Right now I'm not eating any of these things, plus eggs, and all dairy to see if I can get completely cleared up (still remains to be seen). My eczema has gotten much better in the past few years, which I mostly attribute to very low Omega 6, and minimizing triggers. One other thing is sleep! A lot of it. My skin gets better or worse directly in proportion to how much sleep I get.
One other eczema tip: My hands used to crack every winter and the pain was so bad it would wake me up at night. The only relief I found was Aveeno diaper rash cream. Rub it into the dry cracked skin thoroughly at least twice a day. It really helps.
on January 16, 2012
at 11:41 AM
He often has an outbreak in the winter
Then he is probably D deficient.
My chronic eczema TOTALLY cleared up after supplementing with D3 for 3 months. I got my blood level on the high end of 50-80ng/ml.
Agree with gluten-free & low Omega 6. He needs to reduce his overall inflammatory load, including stress.
on January 16, 2012
at 05:18 AM
I???m beginning to think that for me, Omega 6 fatty acids are more important for my eczema than gluten or any other NADs. That almond butter probably isn???t doing your BF any favors, and as Eugenia pointed out, having to take a lot of it to stay satiated is probably a sign that the diet itself needs tweaking ??? I???m never ever hungry enough to need snacks, and I eat just two meals a day.
- Push his omega 6 intake as low as possible. No nut butters, no vegetable oils, limit pork and chicken and eggs. Lots of beef and seafood! Seriously, 90% of my diet is various beef cuts (including liver) and seafood.
- I personally use CeraVe for daily moisturizing. Yes it's not Paleo blah blah blah but it uses liposomal technology, and I have two research papers under my name involving liposomes so I'm VERY familiar with the technology and feel confident in its mechanics. CeraVe easily beats out any other moisturizer for me by a mile ??? the only thing I change is that every-other-day I add a drop of jojoba oil and mix it in.
- Again, not Paleo, but when my eczema was seriously breaking out (to the point that I nearly failed several classes because I couldn???t concentrate), the very best thing that happened to me was that my dermatologist prescribed a round of prednisone treatment. Yes, it screws with your hormones quite badly, but that one nuclear-reset was what allowed me to get on with resuming my life as normal and start more natural ways of getting back on track. If the weeds have overgrown the area, sometimes you just have to carpetbomb it to start over.
I???ve not by any means ???cured??? my eczema, but this basic regime means that I haven???t used any creams, steroidal and NSAID, ever since going Paleo a year ago, and I never get too bad of an outbreak these days as long as I stay away from heavily chlorinated water (swimming pools).
on January 16, 2012
at 03:22 AM
I used to have eczema up until I went Paleo (it went away in the first 2.5 months). I eat offal, I cook with coconut oil and bone marrow broths, I also eat fermented foods (sauerkraut, home-made lactose-free probiotic goat yoghurt, lactose-free probiotic kefir), I take no caffeine at all (herbal tea, and decaf kombucha), a few nuts -- definitely not spoon-fulls of nut butter which are known allergens. If your bf is hungry during the day and needs to be eating nut butter to keep hunger in check, it means that he's not eating proper Paleo breakfast and lunch.
I also supplement with various vitamins (D3, Mg, K2, Krill Oil, multi-vitamin, E-tocotrienol, but not daily). This took care of my eczema nicely (along another 20 health problems actually), although I was applying the Elidel anti-eczema cream every few days, in the beginning. Elidel was able to keep it somewhat under control in the last few years, but Paleo took it really away, it's all gone...
on March 22, 2012
at 08:17 PM
I would also recommend trying out the oil from Udo's with a non-fish source DHA, it does wonders for my skin.
I had eczema when I was a kid, then after going on the paleo diet got it again, all over my body, very itchy, and painful. I also, for the first time in my life, had insomnia.
Turns out I have high histamine levels in my body naturally, and all the meat, bone broths, kefir (and other ferments) made my histamine levels sky rocket. So, a paleo diet high in protein, bone broths etc. is the worst kind of diet for me.
Nowdays I still eat a mainly whole foods diet, but with very small amounts of protein, no ferments, no offal, no bone broth etc. Mainly a vegetarian diet with fresh food. My eczema took some time to heel completely, something like half an year, but it did, and the itching started to lessen in only a couple of days after ditching most high histamine foods.
on February 06, 2012
at 02:24 PM
I know everyone's eczema is different. My eczema is related to a lack of Omega 3.
Some of this info might be of help:
Also improving gut flora may also help with eczema. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16601353
on February 23, 2012
at 02:54 AM
Ketosis and high doses of Vitamin D, regular doses of zinc, magnesium, and selenium. Also this "high metabolism" may be inslin resistance (explains the hunger or need to stay full). + Lots of grassfed beef/organ meats.
on February 23, 2012
at 02:06 AM
You said you were supplementing with D, but how much? You're in Canada, vitamin D insufficiency is endemic here. Has he ever had his serum 25(OH)D3 tested? My eczema and back acne didn't clear until:
- I added ample omega 3 fatty acids to my diet. It took many weeks for this to show results, so you have to be generous and patient. You are correcting an imbalance, and tissue takes time to turn over. If he can't tolerate fish oil, get plant sources. Flax oil is excellent, many people report improvement of eczema with flax oil. Be generous with it, and cut out all other vegetable oils.
- I brought my 25(OH)D3 level well above 100 nmol/L. The key thing here is that even a generous 2600 IU a day was not sufficient to get me replete! It wasn't until I upped the dose to 5000 IU that it started to deliver results. You are probably both undersupplementing, and are still insufficient. Oh, and I needed a liquid form; I just didn't absorb it when it was in tablet form.
I don't claim that this will cure him, since he seems to be doing a lot of things right and the eczema is getting out of control, but vitamin D is linked with some forms of eczema, and it definitely helped me when it was added to a diet rich in omega 3. From my own experience, I know it is possible to be insufficient even when supplementing, so let the labs tell the story!
Please let us know how things go, and whether the hypoallergenic diet helped. Good luck!
on January 29, 2012
at 03:24 AM
Have you tried Udo's Choice Oil Blend which is a fish free omega 3, 6, 9 blend with a ratio of 2:1:1 http://www.udoerasmus.com/products/oil_blend_en.htm
on January 27, 2012
at 05:44 PM
When I read your, "Typical breakfast is hard boiled eggs and a smoothie, roasted veggies for a snack..." it made me think that you need to add some nice bacon to the breakfast, and fry the eggs in the bacon grease. This is my breakfast almost every day, and it helps keep my skin more moist and supple. (We use non-nitrite "bacon ends" at Trader Joes) Last year when I experimented with vegetarianism, my skin would get so dry and cracked and itchy all the time that it would also wake me in the night.
Also, I don't seem to benefit from vit. D3 supplementation, at least not in the formulation I was taking recently, so I've quit taking it for awhile. This may sound odd, but is in line with http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/04/23/dr-nicholas-gonzalez-on-alternative-cancer-treatments.aspx which says that some metabolic types do better with different sources of vitamins.
For some reason, the above link was broken... is this the same as http://www.nationaleczema.org/videos/video-starting-scratch ??
on January 16, 2012
at 05:01 AM
I've had eczema off and on my whole life. In my case, I think it's brought on by some kind of seasonal allergy trigger. I think eating wheat might make it worse, but that's only because it seemed less severe when I was seriously low-carbing, which meant I wasn't eating wheat. On another occasion I also tried giving up dairy for a few months, but that made no difference at all.
Stress makes it a lost worse, btw. When I was doing my capstone project for grad school last spring, I had the worst (by far) flare of my life.
I wish I had some advice for you, but when it's flaring up I don't know anything better than going to a dermatologist for treatment. (Definitely see a derm, not just a GP.) I have successfully used the steroid ointments when it gets bad enough, but the ointment doesn't thin my skin like it does your boyfriend's.
Proper moisturizing is important during a flare but also as a preventative. If he gets his moisturizing routine down now, maybe it won't flare up as badly when winter comes again next year.
This site has great info on how to moisturize properly - I wish I'd known this years ago: http://www.nationaleczema.org/starting_from_scratch/
Finally, if it was me having chronic severe symptoms that Western medicine wasn't addressing, I'd probably go to an acupuncturist/Chinese medicine doctor to see if there was anything they could do for me.
on January 16, 2012
at 04:27 AM
My kids and I used to get eczema, and it subsided quite a bit after removing gluten from our diets, and then altogether with the removal of all dairy for me, and most cow dairy for the kids. My daughter's was creeping out again, and we realized she had a chocolate allergy, and she'll get patches if she eats sugar. My guess would be that your boyfriend has other allergies that he is still unaware of, and would likely benefit from an elimination diet (almonds and chocolate, maybe others to try as well). I wonder also if he's doing a lot of probiotic rich foods and/or a few months of a good probiotic? Shea butter helps us a lot, I hope some improvement happens for him soon!
on January 16, 2012
at 03:16 AM
I have eczema on my right hand and I thought going Paleo would help but it hasn't really. My doctor told me to keep it moisturized and put hydrocortisone. I found that the hydrocortisone didn't help much. So I bought this Aveeno lotion for eczema and put it on CONSTANTLY and found that helps soothe it a little but my hand is still very inflamed/red/swollen/itchy/etc.
Then about last week, I decided to stop taking omega-3 supplements because I'd rather just eat fish instead and found that that has sort of made a difference but I don't know if this will apply to your boyfriend since he's allergic to fish... I tried using Neosporin (an antibiotic) and A&D ointment (a skin protectant commonly used for diaper rash) and none seemed to be helping. But then I started putting coconut butter from Artisana whenever I could but I still use the Aveeno lotion. The swelling on my fingertips has gone down noticeably and I only have to deal with occasional itching, some flaking (which I take as a good sign that new skin is growing) but it's still very red. It's very hard not to scratch :P Oh also, don't submerge the areas in hot water. Use mild water.
Other than that, not much has changed. Still have the same diet (meat, starchy and non-starchy vegs, no fruit, nuts a few times a week, no dairy/legumes/grains/sugar, fat in the form of coconut oil, avocado and evoo, and eggs everyday). I take a multivitamin, extra B, D, K2, C, Zinc and CoQ10. Ever since going Paleo, the first positive change I noticed was clearer skin. I only use a cleanser at night and in the morning just rinse with water. No moisturizers or makeup but since it's winter and my skin also tends to get very dry, just put a little dab of something with natural/organic ingredients.
on July 15, 2016
at 09:04 AM
Eczema on skin is a common skin infection. The term Eczema is broadly applied to recurring skin rashes that are characterized by redness, crusting, cracking, swelling, flaking, blisting, bleeding, itching and dryness.
on September 30, 2013
at 06:27 PM
Please also consider that he could be suffering from his topical steriod use, which is the case for me. I experienced the exact same symptoms as your BF (minus the anus thing). I found ITSAN last year and it changed me completely. I am currently going through topical steroid withdrawal and can say it is absolute hell, but I can tell my skin is healing and parts that used to be plagued with eczema feel like new skin like when I was a kid - its incredible.
on July 02, 2013
at 02:43 AM
Ive been Paleo since Dec 2010, Felt Great, until Nov 2011, when i started to feel fatigue, and an extreme eczema attacked me every since, kept researching for reasons why, I upped my Fat and lowered my Fat i DID Zero carb, low , med and also High. nothing worked, and Before Paleo i had no issues with eczema, just the minor acne, and going paleo, I introduced all animals and fats. Since learning about Salicylates and amines ive had to tone it down and now i only eat White fish and Salmon and Green beans (so-so-paleo?) Ive cut out Grains, Dairy (even butter!) and now i feel great my eczema flares have dropped, (its only been 2 days on this diet) I am also sad because this diet is very limited, but its worth it, because eczema is a real life killer. I LOVE AND HATE PALEO! But i think most people on here that dont do well on Paleo need to look into Salicylates and amines intolerance. Especally the people who get Skin problems while going on paleo. I even quit smoking marijuana! but i hope as i heal maybe i can introduce my weed again and live a normal life.
I also want to mention Salmon may contain Amines, mostly on skin, same with chicken, so avoid the skin.
Its hard because the only veg i eat is Green beans, I will try white potatoes soon, and see how that goes, because considering the Autoimmune thing and eczema i want to stay away from it.
But ya Potatoes and rice are going to be my next step for further exciting my diet lifestyle.
I also live in Toronto and winters usually bring it out, but i think i finally got the answer!!! we'll see how this new diet adjustment goes.
on July 02, 2013
at 01:44 AM
I can totally feel with all of you! I had eczema all my life off and on,mainly due to a usually healthy diet it only broke out severely a few times. One of these times was last winter. I live in NYC and the winter months are cold here as well. A blood test returned that I was vitamin D3 deficient, so I started using supplements (2500 UI 4 x a day). It did seem to improve slightly but never eliminated the outbreak I had on my face arms, legs, butt, lips and corners of lips. I was juicing a lot during that period and perhaps that triggered my reaction ( too much acidic fruits?). I made sure to only use fruits/ veggies I wasn't reacting to in terms of a contact allergy on my mouth, but the oranges, lemons, etc might have caused my body to react after all.
I live in a non-toxic household ( never use any fragrant, harsh commercials cleaners etc), don't have animals, don't smoke, or drink,...I was wrecking my brain what the trigger could be. After talking to people I heard about celiac disease. It was suggested to try a gluten free diet. A that time I had enough of dermatologists who only prescribe topical treatments without trying to get to the cause of it and tried a homeopathic healer. He also put me on a gluten-free, dairy free diet in conjunction with some herbal supplements that were healing the gut flora. After 6-8 weeks my eczema outbreak subsided and cleared up completely! I have not idea if there were environmental factors involved in the healing ( it was getting warmer outside and I took a vacation by the sea which usually clears up eczema), however, it was a breakthrough. I can highly recommend it as nothing else helped! If you (or your BF) decide to go gluten-free, Make sure to not substitute gluten for gluten free processed foods. That opens up a whole new can of worms, since a lot of items contain soy for example, which often is an allergen. Just try to truly eat gluten free eating fresh produce and quinoa, rice for example.
Add hemp seeds and hemp seed oil to your diet (high in omega 3s and super delicious). Get Whipped Shea Butter by LUX naturals (I absolutely love it!) from whole foods. It comes in natural chocolate flavor and consists of hempseed oil, coconut oil and Shea butter. I swear by it, especially now that I am pregnant and am even more iffy with products.
Last but not least try to book a vacation by the sea ( I recommend Florida or Mexico). Mineral rich seawater has been curing skin diseases for centuries. People don't travel to the dead sea for no reason. They all go there to heal their eczema and psoriasis. Sun and saltwater is one of the most effective treatments you can indulge yourself in, in combination with a gluten free,dairy free approach. I always get a bag of natural sea salt and take a warm bath for 15min if things get out of hand. Afterwards just put on your sheabutter and relax. A Claritin will help any itching. Make sure to sleep in all cotton clothes, even your daily wardrobe should be 100% cotton. All other synthetic materials are irritants.
I hope this could be of help. Best, Dada
on February 20, 2013
at 06:46 PM
Diet is important when it comes to eczema, but your BF might be suffering from Leaky Gut Syndrome, which means that a lot of toxins are entering his body through gaps in his intestine lining. Our skin is our largest organ and "a passageway that rids our body of toxins". I would suggest you try to find a good quality bovine colostrum product to help heal his gut. Bovine Colostrum also boosts the immune system, which will help get rid of the inflammation.
on December 14, 2012
at 05:10 PM
This woman got rid of her eczema with managing the types of food (which happen to be paleo, yeah!), and supplements she consumes. I've been trying it for a month and my 35 year battle with eczema is going away!
on October 03, 2012
at 07:31 PM
I have had eczema most of my life...I found out, quite by accident, that I am allergic to lavender (the essential oil of which is in a lot of creams/ointments/salves)...If your boyfriend is still using that, I would recommend he check into that...
How I found out I was allergic...I was in my garden, where I have lavender plants...Decided to cut back some spent blossoms (w.bare hands and scissors) and found myself immediately wishing I could peel the skin off of my hands, they were so itchy...
Can't hurt to take a trip to a garden center and have him manhandle a lavender plant (well, it will hurt, but at least he'll know if that is a trigger)
Other than that, my dermatologist prescribed me a two part therapy of a cream called Olux and an ointment called Protopic...It works great, you apply one morning and night one day and the other morning and night the next day...But if you're going for natural, it certainly isn't...I only use it when I absolutely need it, but it does a great job of getting it under control so that you can keep it under control...
<3 All the best <3
on July 19, 2012
at 06:21 PM
I Know this post is old but hopefully it will benefit someone. I used to have really bad Eczema problems on my hands. They would crack and bleed and be painful to touch. I tried numerous medications, lotions, and creams. I finally discovered after some detective work that I was reacting to Sodium Laureth Sulfate which is in soap, toothpaste, shampoo, and numerous other items. As soon as I got rid of that they cleared up and I am doing well again. The only annoying part is I have to carry a bar of Dove soap to wash my hands because I avoid all soaps in the bathrooms / kitchens that I visit.
I hope he is doing much better.
on June 17, 2012
at 05:17 PM
Lots of great tips here... thank you!
We're coming up on a year of eating Paleo, and my eczema is definitely much better now. I still have the occasional breakouts on my hands and face, but not as bad as my pre-Paleo days.
Nightshades, citrus, and dairy are no-no's for me, too. I have to stay away from pineapple, kiwi, and most acidic fruits in general. Berries and apples seem OK.
I hear ya on the corticosteroid creams. I try to use those at minimum. If anything, if I feel a flare-up coming on, if I take an aspirin and a Zyrtec tablet, that seems to prevent the inflammation from escalating.
Plenty of fish oil here for Omega-3, and plenty of Vitamin-D as we live in FL.
I would suggest everybody try out my homemade recipe for solid hand lotion. This stuff is so easy to make, it's cheaper than anything you can find in the store, it's made of things you can easily source, and it acts like an invisible pair of gloves. I keep several jars of this stuff around my house, and in my desk at work:
Hope everybody finds some relief!
on February 23, 2012
at 09:16 PM
How about chia seeds as a source of omega 3s? Eggs are an allergenic food and can cause skin problems for some.
on February 23, 2012
at 08:25 PM
I would cut the almond butter and any other nuts immediately! Actually, anything with O6 in it. I had serious skin problems and only got better when I eliminated all PUFAs. That is, I reacted even to fish oil and flaxseed oil, since those still have 06.
Use coconut oil instead.
How is he doing?
on February 06, 2012
at 10:59 PM
i don't want to open a new thread, so I ask right here. For the first time in years my eczema has worsened and two of my major changes since going more towards Ray Peat are:
- Fruits (citrus Fruits)
- Milk and cheese
- very low Pufa -
What do you think is the culprit, if any? I hope it's jut one of them. it would suck to eliminate both Milk and Fruits.
on January 16, 2012
at 10:38 AM
My DS & DD react to dairy. Possibly to other things, but I don't know...
For me, I used to get dermatitis in the winter on my hands. Since taking flaxseed oil (my chiropractor told me before I was paleo)to help my sons eczema, my dermatitis/eczema & keratosis pilaris got better. Whether its omega 6:3 ratio or essential fatty acids I'm not sure. But a combination of the two would be my bet.
I'd get rid of the nut butter for a while & see if it makes any difference too.
Another thought that I had... I have contact dermatitis to nickel - could he have a certain dermatitis that is like this? Some people with a nickel allergy suffer when they eat nickel rich foods too. Just a thought.