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11 Bad-Skin Trigger Foods

A delicious meal should put a smile on your face -- not turn it bright red. Or itchy. Or bumpy. But for some people, certain foods can trigger hives (an eruption of small welts), swollen lips, itchiness, flushing, eczema (rough, itchy patches), or a hot-to-the-touch rash -- even if you've never reacted to a food before.

If the outbreak covers your entire body or is accompanied by chest tightness, wheezing, or shortness of breath, you're having a full-blown allergic reaction. Get to an emergency room -- pronto -- for a shot of epinephrine.

Otherwise, apply hydrocortisone cream to help soothe welts, rashes, and inflammation says RealAge medical expert and New York City dermatologist Amy Wechsler, MD. To quell itching, take an antihistamine pill like Benadryl. If you suspect hot spices are to blame, drink lots of water to help flush them from your system.

If you know what food triggered your reaction, you can steer clear of it in the future. But if you're not sure, write down everything you ate leading up to your outbreak -- use this list of common culprits as a memory jogger -- and talk with your doctor about allergy testing.

  1. Cow's milk
  2. Eggs
  3. Peanuts
  4. Tree nuts (cashews, walnuts, almonds, etc.)
  5. Shellfish
  6. Soy
  7. Wheat
  8. Red wine
  9. Citrus (limes, oranges, etc.)
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Hot spices, such as chili seasonings

PS: Ironically, the one thing food can't do to your face is make it break out. "Studies have found no correlation between acne and food," says Dr. Wechsler. Even greasy fast food -- unless you're cooking it, not eating it. If you're prone to breakouts, the worst thing that could happen to your skin is working near a deep fryer, she explains: "All those cooking oils get onto your skin and into your pores." Clog city. Just eating fries and a chocolate shake, however, while it may not be good for the rest of you, won't do a thing to your face. Learn how to avoid acne in adulthood with these five important tips from Dr. Wechsler.

July, 2007