Written by Mita Majumdar, M.Sc. | 
Medically Reviewed by dr. simi paknikar, MD on Oct 21, 2020

Allergic Reaction with Foods

Let's check out some of the more serious skin problems caused by consuming ‘bad’ foods.

Who thought chocolate, cheese and yogurt could be bad for your skin! But it’s true. Researchers from Shiga University of Medical Science, Japan, found that these foods play a role in worsening of skin lesions in children with atopic dermatitis (inflammatory, non-contagious, itchy eczema). ‘We asked patients to exclude challenge-positive foods from their diets. They were then discharged and followed up for 3 months at our outpatient clinic. Exclusion of the offending foods for 3 months brought about a remarkable improvement in the disease. These results suggest that foods play an important role in irregular aggravation of skin lesions in children with atopic dermatitis’, they say.

More recently, they continued their research with 92 exclusively breast fed Japanese infants with atopic dermatitis and came up with a startling revelation. Of the 92 infants, 67 (73 percent) showed improvement of skin lesions when their mothers avoided tree nut-related foods (chocolate and coffee) and fermented foods (cheese, yogurt, bread, soy sauce, miso soup and fermented soy beans) and showed aggravation of skin lesions when these foods were reintroduced. The predominant offending foods were chocolate, yogurt, soy sauce and miso soup. The researchers concluded that ‘tree nut-related foods and fermented foods are important offending foods of atopic dermatitis in breast-fed infants’.

An Australian study published in the International Journal of Pediatrics also came to the same conclusion with nut allergy in breast fed babies.

A skin disorder in which diet has a definite role is Dermatitis herpetiformis. It is an extremely itchy chronic rash made of bumps and blisters seen in people who are 20 years and older, although children may sometimes be affected. The rashes most often occurring on the elbows, knees, back, and buttocks are frequently linked to gluten sensitivity in the small bowel. ‘A strict gluten-free diet will also be recommended to help control the disease. Sticking to this diet may remove the need for medications and prevent later complications’, according to the NIH information.

Host of foods contain gluten in them. Most common ones are baked foods viz. wheat, barley and rye products such breads and bread roll, pastry, scones, bagel, cheesecake, pizza dough, pasta, macaroni, semolina, couscous, muffins, shortbread, biscuits, cookies, and all bran. Other foods that may contain gluten are sausages, luncheon meat, blue cheese, baked beans, sauces, soups, mustards, instant coffee, cheap brands of chocolate, potato crisps/chips, soy sauce, licorice, drinking chocolate, chutneys and pickles, salad dressings, and a host of other foods.

Psoriasis, another disorder that causes skin redness, irritation and flakiness, appears to be aggravated by a diet which has an omega 3 - omega 6 imbalance. Many psoriatic patients show increased sensitivity to gluten and their symptoms improve on a gluten-free diet. A vegetarian-based diet may put an individual at a risk of eating high amounts of vegetable oils and soy products, and low amounts of fish, which can tip the balance toward a pro-inflammatory state.

So, it is important to spot foods that are creating problems for your skin. Paying attention to diet by avoiding bad foods or modifying your diet to suit your skin type will help prevent recurrences of many skin diseases.


  1. Human skin condition and its associations with nutrient concentrations in serum and diet - (http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/77/2/348.long)
  2. Food and Diet - (http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-causes/diet-and-weight/)
  3. Role of foods in irregular aggravation of skin lesions in children with atopic dermatitis - (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18705827/)
  4. Warning: Avoid these foods containing gluten if you have celiac - (http://www.the-gluten-free-chef.com/foods-containing-gluten.html)

Most Popular on Medindia