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Itchy Dozen Worst Foods for Eczema

Yoghurt can trigger eczema

Nutritionist Karen Fischer's daughter had severe eczema and avoiding 'the itchy dozen' changed their lives. Now her daughter is eczema-free and Karen recently spoke about The Itchy Dozen Worst Foods for Eczema on the Australian 7 News story "breakthrough diet for eczema". 

Article by Karen Fischer: 

The Itchy Dozen Worst Foods for Eczema

People are often surprised to find the Itchy Dozen includes some of the so-called 'good' foods for eczema. I know the Itchy Dozen contradicts some popular beliefs published in online blogs. However, according to Australian research conducted over the past thirty years, these foods could be the reason your skin is dry, flaky and incredibly itchy (ref: Loblay and Swain).

I've seen this information help hundreds of so called 'hopeless' cases of eczema. People who have had eczema for 20, 30 or 40 years and more, who thought they were stuck with eczema for life, are seeing their eczema clear up for the first time. It can really change lives but it requires a change in beliefs about healthy eating. This quote sums it up:

"One man's medicine is another man's sleepless night itching."

So a food that is good for an eczema-free person, such as avocado, could trigger a bout of maddening itching in another person. 

Not counting allergy foods (as these vary), here are the surprising foods and beverages most likely to give you itchy eczema ...


1. Dairy products

Dairy can trigger eczema

Dairy products, including cow’s milk, yoghurt, butter and cheese, are the second most common allergy food seen in eczema sufferers (after egg). 

Dairy products can also cause damage to the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. When the gut lining is damaged from eating dairy products, tiny holes allow larger food particles to enter the body and allergic reactions and sensitivities can result. Naturopaths often refer to this as 'leaky gut' and the medical term doctors use is 'increased intestinal permeability'. 

  • Yoghurt is particularly bad for eczema as it often contains added sugar, fruit flavourings, amines (histamines from fermentation) and a natural colour called Annatto (160b) which can trigger eczema.

Calcium deficiency can cause eczema

It's important to take a calcium supplement (instead of consuming dairy products) as calcium deficiency can cause eczema. I like to prescribe a pure, fine calcium powder with added magnesium. It promotes a good night's sleep too, which eczema sufferers often lack. If you are itchy, one heaped scoop of Skin Friend PM mixed into water or food will quickly calm down the itch.  

2. Grapes 

Grapes can trigger eczema

If you have eczema or asthma, avoid grapes and grape-products such as wine, sultanas, raisins and grape juice. Why? Because grapes are a “triple threat” as they are a very rich source of three itch-promoting chemicals called salicylates, amines and monosodium glutamate (MSG) which are known to worsen eczema (Loblay and Swain 2006). 

  • Salicylates are a natural pesticide made by many fruits and vegetables, and it's also found in aspirin, perfumes, herbal medicines and baby teething gel.

Instead of grapes, eat peeled pears as they are a low-salicylate eczema-friendly alternative. 

3. Oranges

Oranges make eczema itchier

Oranges and orange products including juices have similar properties to grapes as they are a strongly acidifying fruit, and a rich source of two itchy chemicals: salicylates and amines.

  • 36% of eczema sufferers experience a worsening of eczema symptoms when they eat amine-rich foods such as oranges. (Loblay and Swain 2006).

4. Kiwi fruit 

Kiwi fruit can cause eczema

Kiwi fruit can make you itch like mad as it is a strongly acidifying fruit and a rich source of salicylates and amines which commonly trigger eczema. 

  • Did you know food chemical intolerances can take days to appear? After you have eaten an irritating food such as kiwi fruit, reactions can either be immediate or the next day but they can also occur up to three days later. No wonder people are confused about food intolerances. 

5. Soy sauce/tamari sauce

Soy sauce yoghurt coffee chocolate and eczema

Soy sauce is very rich in amines and MSG (both natural or artificial), so they can trigger eczema and other types of skin inflammation. 

  • 35 percent of eczema sufferers experience a worsening of eczema symptoms when they eat glutamates including MSG (Loblay and Swain 2006).

6. Tomato 

Tomatoes trigger eczema

Tomato and products containing tomato including tomato ketchup and spaghetti Bolognese, are another triple threat as they are very rich sources of salicylates, amines and natural MSG. The three worst chemicals for triggering eczema!

7. Avocado

avocado can cause eczema

We have had hundreds of reports from eczema sufferers who say avocado worsens their eczema.

While avocado is a healthy addition to your diet when you don't have eczema, avocado is one of the richest sources of amines and itch-promoting salicylates. 

8. Broccoli

This tip may surprise you but it could save you years of pain. Broccoli, spinach, silverbeet and kale can worsen eczema symptoms because they are another 'triple threat' - all are rich sources of itch-promoting salicylates, amines and natural MSG. That's why we like them so much... MSG is highly addictive.

I'm not saying these foods are bad, just problematic while you have eczema, if you are sensitive to salicylates. But you won't know if you are sensitive to salicylates (or amines or MSG) until you avoid these foods for a couple of weeks, then test them again. 

In the meantime, eczema-friendly alternatives are the greens that are lower in salicylates and these include green beans, iceberg lettuce and celery to name a few.

Tip: after your eczema has disappeared, gradually expand your leafy green intake. 

9. Dried fruits 

Dried fruits cause eczema image

Dried fruits contain a range of problematic chemicals - you could say they are a quadruple threat as they can contain salicylates, amines, MSG and sulphites!

All types of dried fruits including dried apricots, dates, prunes and sultanas, contain high levels of itch-promoting salicylates and amines, and some also contain the preservative sulphur dioxide and natural MSG which is why they are flavoursome. But they will make you itch like mad. 

So skip the dried fruits in cereals, avoid muesli bars and ditch the dried fruits in your child's lunch-box. 

  • More than 50 percent of people with eczema react to preservatives which are common in dried fruits, and their eczema symptoms worsen as a result (Ref: Loblay and Swain 2006)

10. Deli meats 

Deli meats including sausages, ham, bacon and flavoured meats, to name a few, are high in nitrates, flavour enhancers and saturated fats, which can worsen the itch of eczema. 

  • Nitrates triggers eczema symptoms in 43 per cent of eczema sufferers (Loblay and Swain 2006).

But it's not all bad news, good quality meats such as skinless chicken, lean lamb and beef are fine to eat, (organic is best as antibiotics are not used). And if you are not sensitive to seafood, fresh fish is a healthy option. 

11. Eggs

Eggs can cause eczema

More than 70% of eczema sufferers are allergic to eggs according to 'skin prick' and patch testing.

Another reason to avoid eggs includes the risk of 'egg white injury' (yes, that is the medical term). If eaten on a frequent basis raw eggs can cause a biotin deficiency that can trigger eczema. While not everyone's eczema is caused by raw eggs, this information from The Eczema Diet is interesting food for thought.

12. Junk food

Junk food chips and burgers cause eczema image

New Zealand researchers discovered children who eat fast food (take away foods) three or more times per week are significantly more likely than other children to develop severe eczema.

The researchers from Auckland University used international data compiled from almost two million children and found they were not only more prone to eczema, they were also more likely to develop asthma.  

The solution? Cook your meals at home and ensure you use eczema-friendly ingredients...  

How to prevent eczema from the inside out

Eczema is often triggered by a variety of factors including:

  • under-functioning liver (this is normal for children under age two)
  • chemical intolerance and allergies
  • illness/stress
  • genetics (defect in the filaggrin gene)
  • salicylates, MSG and amines (natural chemicals)
  • artificial food chemicals (nitrates and sulphites)  
  • nutritional deficiencies (calcium, biotin etc)

So a skin cream often does not suffice, in most cases, in the war against eczema – an internal solution is needed.

Here are two ways to clear up your eczema using a gentle and holistic approach: 

12-week low chemical diet

The Eczema Diet is a low salicylate diet

    The Eczema Diet is a healthy low chemical diet that is also low in sugar and totally free of glutamates, preservatives/additives and dairy. It shown you how to promote healthy liver function, counteract stress, improve your genes and gut health, and become eczema-free.  

    The book also shows you how to successfully expand your diet to include a wide range of foods once your eczema clears up - Stage 2 and 3 of the diet explains this. 

    [I also have a new eczema cookbook, The Eczema Detox, available in October 2017 via Amazon (you can pre-order it at Amazon) and the Skin Friend website.] 

    Tip: When buying The Eczema Diet ensure it is the current latest edition that says "fully revised and updated" (blue cover). 

    Skin friendly supplements

    Skin Friend

    There are a range of nutrients to help prevent chemical sensitivity and repair eczema-prone skin. 

    Skin Friend AM contains magnesium, zinc, vitamin B6 and a range of vitamins to deactivate salicylates and other itch-promoting chemicals. It also contains molybdenum to deactivate sulphite preservatives and amines, plus anti-histamine vitamin C and vitamin B6 to help reduce allergic reactions (it gradually works over a three month period). 

    This is the product I used to prevent my daughter's eczema more than fourteen years ago. It took years of testing before I felt confident that it could help others. I enlisted the help of a top Australian supplement manufacturer to produce Skin Friend. It took months to find the right ingredients that were vegan, non-GMO, and free of salicylates, hidden sugars and additives.

      Why choose dietary supplements over skin care for your eczema?

      You can still use skin care products to moisturise and hydrate your skin. But keep in mind, your skin is literally made from the nutrients supplied in your diet (in the foods and drinks you consume). So it makes sense ... change your diet, consume the right nutrients, to change and heal your skin. 


      "We are on week 8 of the 12 week system, and my 20 month old’s skin (and mine as he is still breastfeeding) have never looked or felt better. Nothing was helping, and after reading The Eczema Diet, I understood that our diet was harming my son. We have been using the supplements and have been very strict on the diet, and it has been miraculous. Thank you so much!"  

      (thanks Amy for posting this on our website)

      "Thanks, love your product - my skin has never been better - stronger, no cracks, less inflamed. I have had eczema my whole life - it was an ongoing disaster I learned to live with. When you grow up without the internet everything you are told by specialists is taken as gospel. After my 30th birthday my skin was completely out-of-control, so I stopped and reassessed everything and started doing my own research online, since all the advice, prescriptions, potions and lotions I had ever been recommended just did nothing for me, some making it worse! After finding and reading your book I got a better understanding of what eczema is... I can say this has been the best year of my skin life. The insatiable itch has finally gone, and the skin has healed enough that it isn't getting infected or inflamed by bacteria anymore. Never thought I would say that. Thank you."

      Anna R. (comment originally published on this page)



      Buy Skin Friend AMSkin Friend PM with calcium and magnesiumThe Eczema Diet Starter PackpH test kitThe Eczema DietSkin Friend Original 2-Pack

      Watch the 7 News video "breakthrough diet for eczema" here >>



      Fischer, K., 2013, The Eczema Diet, First Edition, Exisle Publishing, Wollombi, Australia.

      Rudzeviciene, O., et al., 2004, ‘Lactose malabsorption in young Lithuanian children with atopic dermatitis’, Acta Paediatrica, vol. 93, no. 4, pp. 482–6. 

      Loblay, R.H. and Swain, A.R., 2006, ‘Food Intolerance’, Recent Advances in Clinical Nutrition, retrieved 1 April 2011 from Australian Government website

      Uenishi, T.,, 2003, ‘Role of foods in irregular aggravation of atopic dermatitis’, Journal of Dermatology, vol. 30, pp. 91–7.

      Nakanishi, Y., et al, 2008, ‘Monosodium glutamate (MSG): a villain and promoter of liver in ammation and dysplasia’, Journal of Autoimmunity, vol. 30, no. 1–2, pp. 42–50. 

      Kimata, H., 2005. Prevalence of fatty liver in non-obese Japanese children with atopic dermatitis. Indian pediatrics42(6).

      Article may not be reproduced without written consent from the author.