My family and I love strawberry picking. So much so, that a friend remarked that we should all be weighed in and weighed out at the strawberry farm; the children (especially the littlest) often can’t help scoffing the odd one or two (or three or four) as we go along the rows.
Thankfully, none of my children suffer with moderate to severe eczema. The littlest does suffer with very mild eczema on the cheeks and unfortunately, this can sometimes flare after eating punnet-loads of strawberries.
This is not unusual. In our paediatric dermatology clinic at Orpington Hospital, where we often see children with eczema (from mild through to very severe and widespread), parents often tell us that their child cannot tolerate fruits such as strawberries as it makes their child’s eczema flare.
What are the common foods that cause food allergy?
Now, in the UK the major cause of true food allergy is due to 10 foods or food groups. These are cows’ milk, hen’s egg, peanuts and treenuts (for example, hazelnuts, almonds, brazil nuts etc). These first four are the most common causes of food allergy. Then there is wheat, soya, fish, shellfish, sesame and kiwi. All foods, including strawberries, are capable of provoking an allergic response but the 10 foods listed here are responsible for 90% of all food allergic reactions.
How likely is it that my child will have a food allergy?
The younger the child and the more severe the eczema, the more likely the child is to be affected by a food allergy.
What will happen if my child eats something to which they are allergic?
Most children with a food allergy develop itchy skin wheals within minutes of eating the food but some may develop a worsening of their eczema with worsening itch several hours later. Some children may develop a very severe reaction where there is swelling of their tongue and lips to even a change in their voice and difficulty in breathing (so called anaphylaxis). This requires urgent medical attention.
It is well known that citrus fruits and berried fruits such as strawberries worsen eczema without this being a true food allergy (which is the case with cows’ milk and hen’s egg food allergies).
What should I do if my child’s eczema flares with eating strawberries?
Treat the eczema with your usual anti-eczema treatment. However, simple avoidance is the key, or if that is not feasible, limiting intake to whatever level can be tolerated given the situation with your child’s eczema.
Dr Sandy Flann, Consultant Dermatologist