Foods That Trigger Your Skin Rashes (Cheat Sheet)

Photo credit: Romina Farias

Photo credit: Romina Farias

Uncontrollably itchy skin, rashes covering your body, for the love of... You can't for the life of you figure out what's causing it. You've tried it all.

  • Prescription skin creams and medications

  • Elimination diets

  • 'Clean' skin care products

  • Antihistamine medications

  • Baths and soaks

  • Coconut oil (it fixes everything right?)

The list goes on and none of it works...

The connection to gut health may be why. If you suffer with skin issues like eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis (among others), you more than likely have impaired gut health.

You might be surprised to know that there are a variety of healthy foods that can cause problems. Many fruits and vegetables are triggers for eczema because they contain natural 'chemicals' that some people react to, often because they have impaired gut health. The list of these triggers is long!

Here are 3 of the 10 categories of food triggers for skin rashes like eczema and the common foods they are found in. This is not a complete list.

Salicylates

Salicylate sensitivity can cause skin rash flares in some people. Some people have an allergy to them, and need to avoid them. Other people have a sensitivity or intolerance to them. If it’s a sensitivity, then we need to explore gut health (leaky gut), and an intolerance, then we need to look at why the body isn’t processing them. There’s a detoxification pathway in the body that uses sulfur, and the pathway is responsible for processing certain toxins called phenols. Phenols are found in all sorts of healthy plant foods and some foods have more of them than others. If someone has a problem with this pathway, they may not be able to process out phenols fast enough so they back up and cause symptoms like eczema and other skin conditions (and a variety of other symptoms). Salicylates are a subset of phenols. Removing all salicylates foods isn’t really the answer, there are tons of them, and they are otherwise healthy foods. Removing very high salicylate foods might be helpful if you eat them often (there’s a tolerance level, so smaller quantities less often may be fine), and then supporting detoxification can help too. Supporting detoxification means giving your body the nutrients it needs for detoxification to work (certain vitamins, minerals and amino acids), and NOT a detoxification ‘cleanse.’

Examples of vegetables high in salicylates include (1):

  • Chili

  • Tomato

  • Zucchini

  • Broccoli

  • Artichoke

  • Cucumber

  • Spinach

  • Eggplant

  • Squash

  • Sweet potato

Fruits high in salicylates (1):

  • Apricot

  • Blueberries

  • Dates and dried figs

  • Grapes

  • Oranges and grapefruit

  • Pineapple

  • Granny smith apples

  • Cherries

  • Peaches

Nuts high in salicylates (2):

  • Almonds

  • Peanuts

  • Pistachios

  • Pine nuts

  • Nut chips, crackers and other products made from these nuts

High salicylate herbs (1):

  • Allspice

  • Anise seed

  • Celery

  • Cinnamon

  • Cumin

  • Dill

  • Curry powder

  • Ginger

  • Honey

  • Mint

  • Mustard

  • Oregano

  • Paprika

  • Sage

  • Turmeric

  • Worcestershire sauce

  • Thyme

Many products are high in salicylates (3):

  • Mints, peppermints, chewing gum

  • Acne products (salicylic acid)

  • Aspirin (salicylic acid) (4)

  • Air fresheners

  • Toothpaste

  • Soaps

  • Shaving cream

  • Shampoo and conditioners

  • Razors with aloe strips near the blade

  • Some pharmaceutical medication

Histamine (biogenic amines)

Foods high in histamine include (5):

  • Fermented alcoholic beverages

    • Wine

    • Champagne

    • Beer

  • Fermented foods

    • Sauerkraut

    • Vinegar

    • Soy sauce

    • Kefir

    • Kombucha

    • Yogurt

  • Vinegar and foods that contain vinegar

    • Pickled foods

    • Mayonnaise

    • Olives

  • Cured meats

    • Bacon

    • Salami

    • Luncheon meats, hot dogs

  • Soured foods

    • Sour cream

    • Buttermilk

    • Soured bread

  • Dried fruit

    • Apricots

    • Dates

    • Figs

    • Raisins

  • Most citrus fruits and grapes

  • Aged cheese including goat cheese

  • Walnuts, cashews and peanuts

  • Avocados, eggplant, spinach, and tomatoes

  • Smoked fish and certain species of fish

    • Mackerel

    • Mahi-mahi

    • Tuna

    • Anchovies, sardines

Some foods release histamine (5):

  • Alcohol

  • Bananas

  • Chocolate

  • Cow’s Milk

  • Nuts

  • Pineapple

  • Shellfish

  • Strawberries

  • Tomatoes

  • Wheat Germ

  • Artificial preservatives and dyes

Histamine levels in your body can be increased when there is a deficiency of an enzyme that breaks down histamine called diamine oxidase (DAO) (6). There are foods that can interfere with this enzyme (7):

  • Alcohol

  • Energy drinks

  • Black tea, mate tea, green tea

  • Soy protein, soy protein concentrate, soy protein isolate

  • Pectin

  • Maltodextrin

  • Whey protein, whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate

  • Anything protein fortified

  • Protease, protease enzymes, enzymes

  • Anything ultra-pasteurized

  • Anything fermented

Nightshades

Examples of nightshades include (8):

  • Potatoes (white, red, yellow, blue skinned)

    • Sweet potatoes and yams are not nightshades

  • Peppers

  • Eggplant

  • Chili peppers

  • Capsicum

  • Goji berries

  • Peppers

  • Paprika

  • Tobacco

  • Tomatoes

IMPORTANT NOTE: This is not a suggestion to remove all of these foods from your diet! Doing that could lead to nutrient deficiency. Rather, we need to ferret out underlying causes and address them in order to tame your skin problems. This is why eczema and other skin conditions needs to be addressed from the inside out.

For more information about all 10 triggers, and how to address your skin problems from the inside out, check out the eBook Skin Rash Food Triggers - Addressing Skin Health from the Inside Out”.

References

  1. Skypala IJ, Williams M, Reeves L, Meyer R, Venter C. Sensitivity to food additives, vaso-active amines and salicylates: a review of the evidence. Clinical and Translational Allergy. 2015;5:34. doi:10.1186/s13601-015-0078-3.

  2. Swain AR, Dutton SP, Truswell AS. Salicylates in foods. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 1995;85(8):950-960.

  3. ATP Science. Salicylate Foods – sensitivity, intolerances and food list. Published March 8, 2015. Available from: https://atpscience.com/salicylate-foods-sensitivity-intolerances-and-food-list/. Accessed February 18, 2018.

  4. Baenkler H-W. Salicylate Intolerance: Pathophysiology, Clinical Spectrum, Diagnosis and Treatment. Deutsches Ärzteblatt International. 2008;105(8):137-142. doi:10.3238/arztebl.2008.0137.

  5. Kohn JB. Is There a Diet for Histamine Intolerance? Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2014;114(11):1860. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2014.09.009.

  6. Maintz L, Novak N. Histamine and histamine intolerance. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2007;85(5):1185-96. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17490952.

  7. Myers A. Everything You Need to Know About Histamine Intolerance. Mind Body Green. Published October 3, 2013. Available from: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-11175/everything-you-need-to-know-about-histamine-intolerance.html. Accessed February 18, 2018.

  8. Eczema Life. Are nightshades bad for eczema? Available from: https://www.eczemalife.com/pages/are-nightshades-bad-for-eczema. Accessed February 18, 2018.