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Study Links High Sodium Intake to Increased Eczema Flares


Recent research from UC San Francisco (UCSF) has uncovered a potential dietary factor contributing to eczema flares: high sodium intake. According to the study, consuming just one extra gram of sodium per day can increase the likelihood of eczema flares by 22%.

Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a chronic condition characterized by dry, itchy skin. It is one of the most prevalent skin conditions, affecting over 31 million people in the U.S. and one in ten individuals worldwide at some point in their lives. The incidence of eczema has been rising, particularly in industrialized nations, suggesting that environmental and lifestyle factors, such as diet, may play a significant role.

The Role of Sodium in Eczema

Sodium, primarily consumed as salt, is well-known for its association with hypertension and heart disease. Recent discoveries have also indicated that sodium can be stored in the skin, potentially contributing to the inflammation seen in eczema – and most Americans eat diets high in sodium. 

The cross-sectional study analyzed data from over 215,000 people aged 30 to 70 from the UK Biobank, which includes urine samples and electronic medical records. By examining urine samples, researchers could estimate each person’s sodium intake and correlate it with eczema diagnoses and severity, as indicated by prescription codes.

Key findings include:

  • Each additional gram of sodium excreted in urine over 24 hours was linked to an 11% higher likelihood of an eczema diagnosis.
  • There was a 16% higher likelihood of having an active case of eczema.
  • There was an 11% higher likelihood of increased eczema severity.

Confirmatory Findings from U.S. Data

To validate these findings, the researchers also analyzed data from 13,000 U.S. adults in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They discovered that consuming just one extra gram of sodium per day, equivalent to about half a teaspoon of table salt, was associated with a 22% higher likelihood of having an active case of eczema.

The study suggests that reducing dietary sodium could be an effective and straightforward strategy for managing eczema. Limiting salt intake may help patients reduce the frequency and severity of eczema flares.

This UCSF study provides compelling evidence linking high sodium intake to increased eczema flares. By reducing dietary sodium, individuals with eczema may find relief from frequent and severe episodes. This research underscores the importance of dietary considerations in managing chronic conditions like eczema.

Have you noticed any dietary factors that affect your eczema? How do you manage your salt intake? Share your experiences and strategies in the comments below. Your insights could help others find effective ways to manage their eczema.

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