Pediatric Atopic Dermatitis: The Importance of Food Allergens

The relationship of atopic dermatitis (AD) and food allergy has been a source of controversy.


Jennifer S. Kim, MD

Food allergy and atopic dermatitis often occur in the same patients. Food-induced eczema may be perceived as a controversial topic because the immunologic mechanisms have yet to be fully elucidated. Nevertheless, published clinical studies have clearly demonstrated that foods can induce symptoms in a subset of patients with atopic dermatitis. Those at greatest risk are young children in whom eczematous lesions are severe or recalcitrant to therapy. Allergy testing can be helpful but must be applied judiciously. A medical history obtained by a skilled and knowledgeable health care provider is of paramount importance to interpret test results appropriately. Finally, the implementation of proper dietary avoidance can improve symptoms and provide safety from potentially fatal anaphylaxis. However, if inappropriate prescribed, elimination diets can have significant negative nutritional and social consequences.

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