While it is widely believed that the rising incidence of eczema in children may be triggered off by food-related allergies, experts also warn parent against single-handedly eliminating important food groups from children's diets. The exclusion of milk from baby's or kids' diets is a case-in-point.
The German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) stresses that elimination diets probably help only when a child has a proven food sensitivity or allergy.
The Institute says that most babies and small children with mild eczema will grow out of it, and parents will usually not have to change their family's eating habits.
Eczema is characterised by redness of skin and itching.
Most of the small children with mild eczema will grow out of it by the time they are teenagers, but it will be a lifelong problem for some.
Although scientists still do not know what causes this common condition, they are making some progress on what can help prevent babies developing eczema and allergies.
And the institute has dispelled one of the myths: that diet is usually the culprit.
"Restricting children's diets can harm their health and growth, so parents need to be careful about acting on unproven theories about diet and eczema," said Professor Sawicki, the Institute's Director.
"Trials have shown that eliminating foods like milk or eggs from the diet of small children with eczema probably only helps if they have proven food sensitivities. Formal allergy tests like skin prick and challenge tests done with your doctor can help you get a more reliable picture of whether or not a suspected food really is causing the problem," the professor added.
According to the institute, eczema can be made worse by allergens like pollen, as well as irritants like soap or woollen clothing.
"Research knowledge on eczema and allergies is growing quickly, so parents need to make sure that the information they are relying on is based on up-to-date evidence," said Professor Sawicki.
While scientists are studying the role of probiotics in the development of allergies in children, the research here is still in the early stages.
New findings on allergy prevention suggest that parents can reduce their children's risk by not smoking, according to the institute.