Eczema's Effect on Food Allergy

Chronic skin disorder may reduce chance of outgrowing egg and milk allergies

(RxWiki News) While many children will outgrow their milk allergy, researchers have found that having eczema can reduce a child's chance of outgrowing their food allergies later in life.

A team of researchers reported that eczema may cause a child to continue living with egg and milk allergies - food allergies that children commonly outgrow. Children with less severe cases of eczema are more likely than those with more serious cases to outgrow their egg and milk allergies.

dailyRx Insight: If your child has eczema, she may not outgrow food allergies.

According to Robert A. Wood, M.D., one of the study's authors, "These findings will help clinicians caring for infants with eczema and milk or egg allergy and provide more accurate advice to parents about the likely course of their child's milk or egg allergy." Even if a child's eczema improved, the chance of overcoming food allergies increased only a little bit. Eczema is a chronic skin disorder characterized by itchy skin rashes.

From a study involving more than 500 children between three and 15 months of age, Wood and colleagues found that only 25 percent of children with more moderate-severe cases of eczema outgrew their allergy to milk, compared to 46 percent of children with none-mild eczema. Similarly, only 21 percent of children with moderate-severe eczema resolved their egg allergies, compared to 39 percent of those with none-mild eczema.

Improved eczema did not necessarily mean that a child would outgrow food allergies. Among children who started the study with moderate-severe eczema and then improved to none-mild over time, just 19 percent outgrew their food allergy, compared to 32 percent who continued to have moderate-severe eczema.

More than half of the entire population of the United States, 150 million individuals, would test positive for one or more allergen. Allergic responses are caused when the body's immune system has a reaction called hypersensitivity, causing the body to release inflammatory proteins into the body. Allergies include airborne particulate matter, food allergies, drug allergies, and skin irritants. Symptoms may include sneezing, coughing, and runny nose to airborne allergens; indigestion, vomiting, and diarrhea to food allergies, and hives, itching, and rashes to skin allergens. In some cases, an extreme, life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis can occur in response to allergies to drugs, bee stings, or even food allergies that can cause the patient's airways to close up from swelling. Medication treatments include many over-the-counter antihistamines, such as Zyrtec®, Allegra®, and Claritin®, and prescription medications, like steroids (AeroBid®, Flonase®, Advair®) and anti-leukotrienes (Singulair®, Accolate®). Diagnosis are made through blood tests or skin tests.

The study's finings were reported at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.  

Review Date: 
March 21, 2011