A woman dismissively holds a hand up to various breads.

Atopic Dermatitis and a Low-Carb Diet

I began a new sewing project the other day. A beautiful (I hope) stained glass style quilted table runner, which I knew my daughter wanted. As I was organizing the colors and pieces needed, I started thinking back to the years when my hands were at their worst, always cracked, peeling, and bleeding. That was when I had my own business as a seamstress and worked part-time in a fabric store.

I always blamed the fabrics for my worsening atopic dermatitis, as that was the worst it had been in my 60 odd years. Plus, when I retired, my eczema did improve. I know contact with those fabrics was one cause, but looking back, I realize it may not have been the only or even the major one.

Making lifestyle changes

About the time I retired, I knew I needed to lose some weight. I realized carrying some extra pounds into retirement was certainly not going to maintain or enhance my quality of life.

I knew I had a slight sensitivity to wheat. As many years previously, an allergist had suggested trying an elimination diet to see if my severe grass allergy might cause the grass grains to affect my eczema. Which is how I discovered my sensitivity to wheat. But I hadn’t eliminated it, only cut down my consumption.

Starting a low-carb diet

So with my doctor’s blessing, I began a low carbohydrate diet. Not the strict ketogenic diet, but still very low carb. It seemed like a way of eating I could probably sustain without adding the stress of feeling deprived. I always preferred savory over sweet. I knew I wouldn’t miss the bread and pasta as many people say they do when they begin a low-carb diet.

What foods have I eliminated?

Some of the foods that are now excluded from my meal plan include all processed foods and refined sugars — almost any food high on the glycemic index. Now, almost 10 years later, I’m still at a healthy weight, my bloodwork shows my numbers are where they should be, and I have fewer eczema flares.

Did my diet have an impact on my skin?

But at that time, I didn’t connect my improved skin with my diet, only with the fabric. And there may have been no connection. But now I’m wondering if perhaps it was the diet as much as it was removing the irritation caused by all the fabrics.

This was still early years in the tech universe when few people regularly used the internet, at least in my demographic. Any information came mostly from the library. Would I have questioned a connection between a low-carb diet and eczema if the information was as readily available as it is now?

Was my stress reduction a factor?

Of course, we know stress negatively impacts eczema, So perhaps in retiring, I also reduced the stress enough to make a difference. Or is it that I have unknowingly eliminated some of the foods I am sensitive to? I’ll never know the exact reason, but I appreciate the outcome.

I think the bottom line is that it’s probably a combination of all three; reduced stress, less contact with all those chemically treated fabrics, and the change in diet, which have all helped.

Have you tried a change in your diet to help with your eczema? Have you found one which helped?

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