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Diet Can Influence Allergic Skin Reactions

People who are plagued with a skin condition called contact dermatitis may benefit from ridding their diets of foods such as citrus fruits and tomatoes, according to the results of a small study.// Individuals with contact dermatitis experience inflamed, red, itchy, scaly skin when they come in contact with substances they are allergic to. The reaction is usually associated with an allergen that touches the skin, and many people may not realize foods can also trigger it.

In the study, the team asked patients who had previously been identified as having general food and fragrance allergies to eliminate various skin care products and perfumes as well as a variety of foods, spices and beverages. Specifically, the 45 patients had allergies to a generic chemical found in many types of foods called balsam of Peru (BOP) and were also allergic to a mix of common chemicals used in fragrances.

After eliminating potential sources of irritation such as perfumes, skin care products and cleaners, patients who still did not see a reduction in symptoms were asked to eliminate foods that contain BOP-related chemicals. Such foods include chocolate, citrus fruits, ice cream, cola and tomatoes--in short dozens of foods that people most like to eat. Study participants also gave up flavorings including vanilla and cinnamon, and condiments such as ketchup and barbecue sauce.


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