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Salt Intake May Explain Eczema Flares

1 month ago

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Posted on Jun 21, 2024, 2 p.m.

1 in 10 Americans have eczema and experience difficult flares that can be hard to cope with. Fortunately, the over 31.6 million Americans affected by atopic dermatitis may appreciate the findings of a cross-sectional study recently published in JAMA Dermatology from the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) suggesting that changes in daily salt intake may explain their eczema flares. 

Eczema is one of the most common chronic skin diseases that causes dry, itchy skin. According to the researchers, a high-sodium diet may increase the risk of eczema, and for those with the condition, consuming just one extra gram of sodium per day increases the likelihood of eczema flares by 22%. 

Sodium and eczema

Sodium is typically consumed in the form of salt, and it increases the risk of hypertension and heart disease. Recently it was discovered that sodium is stored in the skin where it can play a role in the inflammation of eczema. These findings suggest that limiting dietary sodium intake could be an easy way for those with eczema to manage the condition. 

"Most Americans eat too much salt and can safely reduce their intake to recommended levels," said Katrina Abuabara, MD, associate professor of dermatology at UCSF and corresponding author of the study. 

"Eczema flares can be difficult for patients to cope with," said Abuabara, who is also an associate adjunct professor of epidemiology at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, "especially when they are unable to anticipate them and don't have recommendations on what they can do to avoid them."

The study

For this study, data was analyzed from over 215,000 participants between the ages of 30 and 70 years old who were enrolled in the UK Biobank, including urine and electronic medical records. Urine samples allowed the researchers to determine how much salt the participants were eating, and the medical records provided information regarding the diagnosis of skin conditions, the severity, and prescription codes. 

The analysis revealed that each additional gram of sodium excreted in urine over 24 hours was associated with 11% higher odds of receiving an eczema diagnosis, 16% higher odds of an active case, and 11% odds of experiencing increased symptom severity. 

This was followed up with another data analysis of 13,000 adults who were enrolled in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. This analysis revealed that eating just one additional gram of sodium a day (around half a teaspoon) was associated with 22% higher odds of a person having an active case of eczema. 

Reducing salt without giving up taste

Most Americans consume more than 3,300 mg of salt each day on average, which is well above the guideline limit of 2,300 mg a day for teens and adults as part of a healthy eating pattern.

For those looking to reduce their salt intake without losing taste, you may want to consider other flavor enhancers such as herbs, spices, and other foods that contain natural flavor enhancers like tomatoes, onions, garlic, a squeeze of citrus, or parmesan cheese for example. 

Adding herbs and spices to your culinary arsenal is a great option. You can choose from fresh or dried varieties to add a little spice to your dish. Basil, cumin, sage, paprika, pepper, thyme, cayenne, turmeric, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, dill, onion, rosemary, and parsley are just some of your options.

There are so many options to enhance flavor. You can even make your own blends by combining your favorites together and storing them in a jar in a cool, dry place.

Splashes of low-sodium options of sauces like Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce and also add a little punch of extra flavor. 

Click here to read an article on the benefits associated with a list of our favorite flavor enhancers that could help you to spice up your life. 

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement. Additionally, it is not intended to malign any religion, ethic group, club, organization, company, individual, or anyone or anything. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. 

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