Eczema (also known as atopic dermatitis) causes itchy, flaky skin and can be quite challenging to manage. Flare-ups can be instigated by everything from cosmetics, soaps and wool to dust mites, pollen and pet dander. Triggers are different for everyone, but identifying yours will help you keep your symptoms under control. For example, some foods may cause your eczema to flare, so avoiding them could be your best defense. There are also foods that have been shown to improve eczema symptoms, as well as other diet tips that can help. You Are What You Eat Because what you consume affects every aspect of your health, it’s important to know which ingredients cause negative effects. If you suspect that certain foods are causing your eczema to flare, you may want to try eliminating those foods from your diet for 3 to 4 weeks to test out your theory. Common culprits are eggs, dairy, soy, peanuts, fish, corn, tomatoes, citrus and gluten products. After a few weeks, gradually reintroduce each food one at a time to help monitor your symptoms and pinpoint your triggers. Some people with eczema are triggered by food intolerances to artificial colors and preservatives. Try eliminating these types of foods from your diet for a few weeks and see if you notice a difference in your symptoms. Incorporating more clean foods, like organic (pesticide-free) fruits and vegetables, and preservative-free breads and meats will not only make your skin feel better, but will keep you feeling better on the inside, as well. It’s not just the food we eat that can pose a problem for people with eczema. The way we handle food may also be the culprit. Natural liquids, like the juice from fresh fruit, vegetables or meats can irritate your skin when you touch them. You may want to wear gloves when preparing food, or have someone else prepare it when possible. Also, be sure to use utensils, instead of hands and fingers, and eat carefully so as to avoid dripping juices on your skin. Supplement Your Diet In addition to eliminating foods from your diet, adding certain products may also provide eczema relief. Studies have shown certain dietary supplements like vitamins D and E, zinc, selenium, evening primrose oil, borage seed oil, and probiotics can improve eczema symptoms. Talk to your doctor about which may be beneficial for you and whether you need a supplement or should increase your levels with certain foods. You can also try adding oolong tea to your diet. Made from the buds, leaves and stems of the Camellia sinensis plant, oolong tea is rich in antioxidants and antiallergenic properties, and has been shown to help relieve itching in some people with eczema. One Japanese study found that after one month of drinking 3 cups of oolong tea daily, 63% of patients showed mild to moderate improvement of their condition. Overall, eating a clean and healthy diet, and identifying and avoiding your trigger foods, can be a great defense against eczema symptoms. Talk to your doctor about other food choices that may be aggravating your eczema or could help improve your condition.