Too much salt? How high sodium diets can make eczema worse

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A new study from UC San Francisco (UCSF) has found that eating a high-sodium diet can increase the risk of eczema.

Researchers discovered that consuming just one extra gram of sodium per day—the amount in a Big Mac—can make eczema flare-ups 22% more likely.

Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a common skin condition causing dry, itchy skin.

It affects over 31 million people in the U.S., with one in ten people experiencing it at some point in their lives.

The condition has become more common in recent years, especially in industrialized countries, suggesting that environmental and lifestyle factors like diet may play a role.

Most people get their sodium from salt, which is known to increase the risk of hypertension and heart disease.

Recently, scientists have found that sodium is stored in the skin and may contribute to inflammation in eczema.

Dr. Katrina Abuabara, an associate professor of dermatology at UCSF and the study’s lead author, suggests that reducing dietary sodium could help eczema patients manage their symptoms.

“Most Americans eat too much salt and can safely reduce their intake to recommended levels,” said Dr. Abuabara.

“Eczema flares can be difficult for patients to cope with,” Dr. Abuabara added, “especially when they can’t predict them and don’t know what to do to avoid them.”

The researchers conducted a cross-sectional study using data from more than 215,000 people aged 30 to 70 from the UK Biobank.

They analyzed urine samples and electronic medical records to determine sodium intake and eczema diagnosis and severity.

They found that each additional gram of sodium excreted in urine over 24 hours was associated with an 11% higher chance of having eczema, a 16% higher chance of an active case, and an 11% higher chance of increased severity.

The researchers also looked at data from 13,000 U.S. adults in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They found that eating just one additional gram of sodium daily—about half a teaspoon of table salt—was associated with a 22% higher chance of having an active case of eczema.

These findings suggest that limiting dietary sodium could be a simple way for eczema patients to manage their condition and reduce flare-ups.

While more research is needed, this study provides important insights into the link between diet and eczema.

Reducing salt intake might be an easy and effective step for those suffering from this common skin condition.

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