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Dietary Approaches to Hand Eczema

Dietary Approaches to Hand Eczema

You know you have eczema if your skin chronically erupts into itchy, flakily and sometimes blistered patches. In the Untied States, about 10% of the population suffers from eczema.1 These irritating patches can occur almost anywhere on the body including the hands.

Hand eczema is triggered by a heighted immune response to various allergens and irritants. Some of the frequent sensitizers can include organic compounds such as formaldehyde, balsam of Peru, as well as metals like nickel and cobalt.2

As a matter of fact, many studies have shown that the most common allergen worldwide is nickel. Nickel can be found in jewelry, metal snaps, coins, and stainless-steel kitchen ware.3 Initial sensitivity may be brought on by constant physical contact to nickel containing items such as these. Once a person is sensitized, the allergy typically lasts a lifetime.3

Other routes of nickel exposure include vaccines, food, and cigarette smoke. In neonates, infants and young children eczema can be brought on by exposure to nickel from the mother’s jewelry, bed rails, vaccines, keys, and door handles. Additionally, the nickel contained in cigarettes can cross into the fetus via the placenta.4,5,6

If you suspect that your hand eczema may be due to a nickel allergy, please see your dermatologist. He/she may order a patch test for confirmation.

If you test positive for a nickel allergy, it is best to avoid contact with nickel-containing products. Additionally, research has shown that a nickel-free diet can help reduce eczema flare-ups. As a rule, whole grains, nuts, and beans contain high amounts of nickel, whereas animal products such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products contain low amounts.6,7

Also, you should avoid cooking foods in stainless steel or iron cookware, especially if you are using acids such as lemons, vinegar, or tomato sauce. Listed below are specific dietary recommendations.

Low Nickle Diet Recommendations 6,7

Low Nickel Foods to Include

Beef, bison




Most Fish (excluding the ones listed as high nickel content).

Refined grains

White rice

Dairy products: Milk, yogurt, cheese, butter

Pasta (semolina)

Baked goods (made for refined grains)

Fresh Fruit: all fruits except for the following in moderations:


Apples: 3-4x/week

Citrus: 3-4x/week

Vegetables: (in moderation), cauliflower

cabbage, broccoli, potatoes, carrots, beets

dill, eggplant, cucumbers, mushrooms, parsley

High Nickel Foods to Avoid

Chocolate, cocoa

Soy beans



All fresh and dried legumes


Canned Foods and beverages

Certain fish: tuna, herring, shellfish, salmon, mackerel

Food (especially with acid) cooked in stainless steel cookware

Whole grains (oatmeal, whole wheat flour)

Fruits: Pineapple, strawberries, raspberries, dried fruits

Vegetables: beans, lentils, peas, soy beans and soy products, spinach, rabe, kale, leeks, asparagus, onions, garlic, tomatoes


Vitamin and mineral supplements containing nickel

Note: To further reduce dietary nickel intake, consume only organically produced fruits and vegetables if possible. Additionally, avoid smoking and exposure to second hand smoke.

Although avoiding contact and dietary nickel exposure may be helpful, there may be other dietary, nutrient, and gastrointestinal factors that could be influencing the course of your disease.

The board certified Integrative and Functions Nutritionist at Food Centered Solutions are specially trained to provide you with a personalized dietary and nutrient plan to help you address all factors that could be influencing your disease. Our goal is to help you achieve long-lasting results.

Call us today for your free 15-minute consultation.

Food Centered Solutions, LLC

Frances Siver, MS, RDN, LDN, CLT, IFNCP Board Certified in Integrative and Functional Nutrition

W:, e:, C: 904-562-0082


  1. National Eczema Association. Eczema Facts. National Eczema Association. Accessed July 9th, 2018.

  2. Boonstra MB, Christoffers WA, Coenraads PJ, Schuttelaar MLA. Ptach test results fo hand eczema patients: relation to clinical types. European JEADV 2015; 29: 940-947.

  3. Sharma AD. Low Nickle Diet in Dermatology. Indian J Dermatol. 2013; 58(3): 240.

  4. Torres M, Gracas M, Mota M, Tosti A. Management of contact dermatitis due to nickel allergy: an update. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investig Derm. 2009; 2: 39-48.

  5. Stejskal V. Allergy and autoimmunity caused by metals: a unifying concept. Vaccines and Autoimmunity. Wiley and Sons; 2015.

  6. Gatti AM, Montanari S. New quality-control investigations on vaccines: microand nanocontamination. Int J Vaccines Vacin. 2016; 4(1): 00072.

  7. Antico A, Soanna R. Nickel sensitization and dietary nickel are a substantial cause of symptoms provocation in patients with chronic allergic-like dermatitis syndromes. Allergy Rginol. 2015; 6: 56-63.

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