The skin disease known as eczema may be linked to food related allergies in infants, a recent study conducted by researchers at King’s College London and the University of Dundee and published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology showed. The research suggests that the breakdown in the skin barrier that occurs in eczema could trigger food sensitivities in infants.

“This is a very exciting study, providing further evidence that an impaired skin barrier and eczema could play a key role in triggering food sensitivity in babies, which could ultimately lead to the development of food allergies,” Dr. Carsten Flohr, of King’s College London, said in a college news release.

The study included over 600 exclusively breastfed infants who were three months of age. The babies were tested for eczema and then checked to see if they were sensitized to the most common food allergens, including egg whites, cow’s milk and peanuts. The findings showed that the more severe the eczema, the more stronger the food allergy was in the infants.

“This work takes what we thought we knew about eczema and food allergy and flips it on its head. We thought that food allergies are triggered from the inside out, but our work shows that in some children it could be from the outside in, via the skin,” Flohr explained. “The skin barrier plays a crucial role in protecting us from allergens in our environment, and we can see here that when that barrier is compromised, especially in eczema, it seems to leave the skin’s immune cells exposed to these allergens.”

Ramie Tritt, M.D., President, Atlanta ENT