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Common Cause of Eczema

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 03/27/2024

Eczema is a condition that affects many people and can be very difficult to live with. Understanding the condition is a good start for those suffering from eczema that want to find relief.

Learn about a common cause of eczema and what steps you can take to find relief.

Understanding Salicylate Sensitivity and Eczema

Different factors can affect skin health, including eczema. Among these is salicylate sensitivity, a potential trigger for this common skin disorder. The link between diet and dermatological well-being has been under scientific scrutiny for some time.

One dietary component that may influence symptoms of disorders like eczema is salicylates - chemicals naturally present in many plant-based foods.

What is Salicylate Sensitivity?

A fraction of individuals might exhibit an adverse reaction towards salicylates, termed 'salicylate sensitivity.'

This condition isn't classified as an allergy but a hypersensitivity where consuming high-salicylate food or using products with them could cause unpleasant symptoms in susceptible people.

This intolerance varies among affected individuals. Some might be able to tolerate low levels without any noticeable effects, while others react adversely even at minimal exposure.

How Does Salicylate Sensitivity Trigger Eczema?

To understand how salicylates potentially exacerbate eczema, we must first grasp what happens during a flare-up.

Essentially, inflammation develops in the layers of your skin due to an overly active immune system caused by various elements such as environmental allergens, irritants, and particular substances.

Those sensitive to these compounds will likely notice heightened severity when unknowingly ingesting rich sources.

The reactions occur when our body misidentifies a harmless substance (in this context, a plant-based compound) as something harmful, thus releasing inflammatory markers. This leads to a chain of events with visible redness and swelling, commonly seen among sufferers.

While the current scientific consensus still lacks a direct causal link between the two, increasing anecdotal reports combined with a growing number of patients finding relief after modifying their diets to avoid potential culprits warrant further exploration of this topic.

This is mainly because there is no definitive cure available at the moment, only management strategies aimed at controlling flares and minimizing the discomfort associated with the chronic nature of the disease.

Identifying Foods High in Salicylates

The path to managing salicylate sensitivity begins with recognizing foods rich in this compound. This can be challenging, as many fruits, vegetables, and spices naturally contain salicylates. However, certain foods have higher concentrations than others.

Understanding these sources empowers you to make informed dietary choices that could help manage your eczema symptoms.

Spices High in Salicylates

Certain spices contain salicylates, such as cayenne pepper and curry powder, with the former containing capsaicin, which provides its distinctive spicy flavor.

Cayenne pepper is particularly notable due to its capsaicin content, which belongs within the family of salicylates, giving it its hot flavor profile.

Curry powder, containing multiple ingredients like turmeric and coriander seeds, carries moderate levels, potentially causing adverse effects on individuals sensitive towards them.

Lastly, there's cinnamon, which is beneficial for various health conditions because of its antioxidant properties. However, those suffering from eczema should exercise caution given its significant amounts.

Other Food Sources Rich in Salicylates

In addition to being found amongst different spice varieties, salicylates occur naturally in other food items at varying degrees. For instance, avoid several types of fruit, such as apples, oranges, strawberries, etc., as they all carry substantial quantities of salicylates.

Vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and bell peppers also have salicylates, according to recent studies.

Nuts, specifically almonds, pistachios, walnuts, peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts, and pecans should also be avoided as an eczema trigger.

The One Week Challenge - Observing Changes from Avoiding Triggers

Use this challenge to find out if salicylates sensitivity is triggering your skin problems.

Preparing for the One Week Challenge

For the one week challenge, begin by pinpointing foods in your diet that are high in salicylates, such as cayenne pepper and cinnamon, or certain fruits and vegetables.

These could include spices like cayenne pepper and cinnamon.

During this week-long period, meticulous meal planning becomes essential. You'll need meals free from these potential triggers; resources providing insights into low-salicylate diets can be helpful here.

Remember that everyone's body responds differently - what works for others may not work for you. Take note of your body's reactions carefully during this period.

Young woman with clear skin

Monitoring Skin Improvements

To monitor changes effectively in skin condition throughout the week-long trial, consider keeping a daily journal documenting any visible improvements or flare-ups along with their corresponding dates and times.

Studies suggest tracking symptoms over at least 1 week before concluding dietary impacts on eczema flare-ups.

Furthermore, noting the frequency of topical treatments (if any) during this period can indicate whether avoiding salicylates has affected managing outbreaks.

Finding Qualified Health Providers Specializing In Diet-related Skin Conditions

Making significant changes to one's diet without professional guidance can lead to nutritional deficiencies.

When done correctly, the American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends dermatologists and allergists with the necessary expertise to handle cases of this nature.

Professional Guidance for Suspected Salicylate Sensitivity

If you have continual eczema flare-ups and think salicylates may be the source, it's essential to get guidance from a medical expert.

While self-diagnosis can provide initial insights into potential triggers like high-salicylate foods, professional advice is indispensable before making significant changes to your diet or health regimen.

The Necessity of Professional Consultation Before Dietary Changes

A drastic change in diet without proper supervision could lead to nutritional imbalances and other adverse effects on health. A certified nutrition specialist or dietician can give personalized dietary advice customized to each person's needs.

Beyond ensuring proper nutrition, accurate diagnosis through professional tests is crucial for confirming suspicions about salicylate intolerance.

Finding Specialized Health Providers for Diet-related Skin Conditions

  1. Dermatologists: Specialists focusing on how diets affect skin conditions are an excellent resource if you suspect that your eczema flares up due to specific foods. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) provides resources for finding qualified dermatologists specializing in treating conditions related to food allergies and sensitivities.

  2. Nutritionists: Certified nutritionists specialized in managing various dietary restrictions linked to skin disorders can also play pivotal roles. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has an extensive directory where patients can locate registered dietitians near them based on their specializations, such as allergy management. Remember that while digital consultations have made access more accessible, especially during pandemic times, face-to-face interaction remains unmatched, particularly when discussing.

Ashwagandha powder and roots

Ashwagandha and Eczema

Ashwagandha, an ancient herb with adaptogenic properties, offers numerous benefits, and its potential effects on eczema have gained attention.

While research on this topic is limited, ashwagandha's overall immune-modulating and anti-inflammatory properties suggest it may relieve eczema symptoms.

Additionally, ashwagandha benefits for females extend beyond eczema, supporting hormonal balance, stress management, and overall well-being.

Despite its potential benefits, individuals with eczema should consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating ashwagandha into their treatment regimen to ensure its suitability for their specific condition and medical history.


Understanding salicylate sensitivity and its link to eczema is the first step toward better skin health.

Identifying what causes your symptoms is essential, particularly edibles with a high salicylate content, such as specific seasonings and nuts. A one-week challenge of avoiding these potential triggers can provide valuable insights into how your body reacts.

But remember, professional advice should always be sought before drastically changing your diet or health regimen. Your journey with salicylate-sensitive eczema can be managed with a strong base of understanding.


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