Flohr and colleagues have published a study called, “Atopic Dermatitis and Disease Severity are the Main Risk Factors for Food Sensitization in Exclusively Breast fed Infants”, in The Journal of Investigative Dermatology. What is known to the authors is that 1 out of 5 children in the UK have eczema and 1 out of 12 have food allergies. What the authors are proposing is that a breakdown in the skin barrier that occurs in eczema could trigger food allergies rather than this being a gut associated immune system issue. They are assuming that because the infants were exclusively breast fed, “this suggests that allergic sensitization to foods can be mediated by cutaneous antigen-presenting cells”.
I couldn’t disagree more. Clinical experience has shown that infants who develop eczema recover when you identify the foods that are triggering the immune response and remove them from the diet. Treating the skin is like closing the barn door after the horses have left the barn! Breast milk will contain proteins that are eaten by the mother. If mom eats gluten and this protein is sensitizing to the baby, you have a gluten issue that can trigger eczema in that baby, even if they are exclusively breast fed. The origin of the immune response is in the gut- GALT (Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue).
While the skin barrier is indeed an important barrier that protects us from toxins and allergens in the environment, it is my experience that you can heal the skin (eczema) by healing the gut and not the other way around. I have seen hundreds of eczema patients who have seen dermatologists and had their skin treated by the most powerful steroids and immune suppressors, yet they never get better until we identify the food sensitivities and remove those foods. Almost without fail— eczema cured!