Being National Eczema month, I can’t not discuss the relationship between sugar and eczema.
“What?!”, you say? How is this possible that sugar influences eczema! I don’t even eat sugar!
Dietary sugar is not only just the white stuff. Sugar is also found naturally in fruit, fruit juices and baked goods, and of course the “natural” sweeteners (because technically sugar itself is natural) like agave, honey, stevia.
Why sugar aggravates eczema is actually quite complex, but let’s simplify this issue with a few known facts:
- Healthy skin hosts a plethora of microbes including bacteria and yeast
- In unhealthy skin, where the skin barrier is broken as in atopic dermatitis or eczema, these populations of microbes grow to excess
- As the numbers of microbes increase to unhealthy levels, the skin becomes irritated, causing you to scratch, which further damages the skin barrier, allowing more bacteria and yeast to take hold
Fun fact: Yeast, especially candida – a major player in this skin irritation cycle – feed on sugar
Simple sugars, like those from fruit, are not “bad” for us per se, but everything in moderation is key here. No more than 3 servings of fruit a day is really necessary for an adult or a child to get the health benefits from fruit.
Do a sugar tally of your day; write down every source of sugar you can think that you might eat. In some of the toddlers I treat with eczema, we found they were eating 6-8 servings of fruit a day! That is a lot of sugar for anyone, let alone someone with a still-developing immune system.
If you have questions or concerns about how sugar affects your eczema, share your experiences with me below in the comments section; I would love to hear from you, as I’m sure others with eczema would also! Feel free to share this information if you know a sugar addict with eczema who might need your help :)