How do food allergies affect skin?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Food allergies may cause the skin to become itchy and swollen and break out in red bumps known as hives.

Food allergies occur because of your body's immune system. Normally, your immune system protects against germs and other invaders that can make you sick. If you are allergic to a given food, however, eating it will cause the immune system to react. Changes in your skin are just one symptom of a food allergy; there might be gastrointestinal and breathing problems, too. For severe breathing problems or swelling of the mouth, lips, tongue, or throat, call 911.

Cow's milk, soy, peanuts, and eggs are just a few of the foods that can result in an allergic reaction. Talk to your doctor if you suspect you have an allergy to food or any other substance.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms of an allergic reaction to food can range from mild to severe. Common symptoms include:

  • Hives
  • Tingling in the mouth
  • Swelling in the tongue and throat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Eczema or rash
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Dizziness


Natasha Turner, ND
Alternative & Complementary Medicine
What you eat (or how you digest it) can often be seen on your face, particularly when it comes to skin conditions like eczema or acne. Food sensitivities or intolerances usually involve a set of immune system antibodies called IgG antibodies. Symptoms are less intense and typically do not appear immediately, but rather within 12 to 48 hours, after eating the offending food. In my practice, skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis are commonly connected to food intolerances and are greatly reduced when the key culprits are removed and proper topical products are used.

One study, which included more than 600 breast-fed three-month-olds, checked to see if they were sensitized to the six most common allergenic foods. The researchers explained that the breakdown of the skin barrier in infants with eczema leaves the active immune cells in skin exposed to environmental allergens — in this case food proteins — which then triggers an allergic immune response. So not only do food allergies cause eczema, eczema causes food allergies.

Bottom line: An easy litmus test would be to go on a 14-day elimination diet and then slowly re-introduce each food group to see if your diet is behind your skin distress. In addition I highly recommend doing the HCL challenge or adding digestive enzymes to meals. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.