Eczema: New research shows salt may play role in flare-ups

Many people have sensitive skin that seems to react to things like stress and the environment.

Foods can have a big impact, as well!

Now - new research suggests that too much salt may play a role in triggering a skin condition.

A local dermatologist explains what could be behind the connection.

The bumps, blisters and irritated dry skin makes doing anything with her hands extremely pain for 26-year-old Mindy Yang of La Puente.

"If I wash my hands, my hands immediately become dry, and if I don't apply something on them, they start cracking and then they start to bleed," she said.

"Eczema is basically a genetic predisposition to having sensitive skin," said Dermatologist Shirley Chi, MD with the Center for Advanced Dermatology in Arcadia.

Many things can trigger this immune response.

"I often tell parents of kids with eczema to eliminate citrus or dairy or nuts out of their diet," Chi said. "Try that for three or four weeks and see of that works."

Now new research points to something else eczema patients might try to eliminate, salt. Technical University of Munich researchers found highly elevated salt levels in the skin of patients suffering from this skin condition.

"Lots of salt promotes the growth of a bad bacteria called staph aureus which we find in patients who have really bad flare ups of eczema," Chi said

Experts agree it's difficult to know if everyone who eats salt will have it show up on their skin or maybe some people are genetically-predisposed. And could reducing your sodium intake improve your eczema? Chi said it's too early to tell, but it could be worth a try.

"There was close to about 8 to 10 months where I primarily ate a lot of frozen food and a lot of canned food," Yang said.

That's about the time Yang believes her eczema started.

" Maybe her diet should be taken into consideration. And there are other things besides salt that you could look at, such as eating too many preservatives or eating too many food dyes," Chi said.

So far, Yang has eliminated dairy, gluten and processed meats.

She said, "I'll continue doing what I'm doing and I'll just eat less salt."

Another suggestion Chi gives her patients is to take an over-the-counter antihistamine if food triggers a rash. It could suppress the flare-up. But it's always best to consult your doctor.
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