Coffee Talks: Is Coffee causing your Eczema Flare-ups?

by R Social Collaborator January 20, 2020 4 min read

We are sure most of you will agree if we say,Coffee has been a long-time faithful friend! From waking us up in the morning, to reviving our studies late at night, and even being an ice breaker on a first date. Ever since its first discovery in Ethiopia, we have been enjoying this beverage for centuries!

If you’ve ever worked or produced something in a coffee shop, then you’ve shared something in common with great composers like Bach and Beethoven, whose musical works were said to be spawned in coffeehouses!

Coffee Culture!

There are just some people who cannot function without a hot cup of brew in the morning. Coffee culture is American culture, no doubt about it. Between coffee breaks and trips to a local barista, Americans drink an average of 1.6 coffees a day. Caffeine, which sometimes gets a bad rap, can actually be remarkably good for you (provided you don’t drink it too late at night). Its health benefits have long fascinated scientists: coffee has been shown to improve memory and brain function, be an excellent source of antioxidants, improve insulin sensitivity, and was even shown to improve DNA.

But if coffee is such a wonderful, helpful discovery, then why is it often pulled into question for those with digestive issues, or inflammatory skin conditions like eczema? So many of the other things we eat and drink like tea, chocolate, soft drinks contain caffeine. So, if it is so great for us, why are we doing a blog post about it?Because for some people, caffeine might worsen or even trigger an eczema flare-up.

Eczema and Flare-ups!

Eczema is a naturally-occurring skin condition for some people which causes patches of dry, hot, red, itchy skin to develop. It happens because of inflammation in your body, which rears its ugly head when you expose it to sources of inflammation or triggers.

An eczema trigger is just a sensitivity to a substance or activity that triggers an inflammatory response, such as an eczema flare-up. In that way, it is somewhat similar to an allergic reaction, except that an eczema trigger tends to cause a localized reaction whereas an allergic reaction can hit the entire body.

Coffee and Eczema

At first thought it may seem crazy to consider coffee as one of the causes of eczema, but they can alter the inflammatory response in ways that play a role in the process of developing eczema. Once you have eczema, they can contribute to the vicious cycle of exposures (foods, infections, toxins, etc.) that perpetuate the condition until they’re removed.

How does Coffee trigger Eczema?

Curious to know how the most popular brew triggers eczema? here it is:

  1. It spikes adrenal hormones just as stress does.

Caffeine sends a signal to the brain which sends a signal to the adrenal glands to pump out cortisol and adrenaline (epinephrine), effectively putting your body in constant fight-or-flight mode. Not good if you have eczema and need your cortisol for its anti-inflammatory effects.

  1. Elevated cortisol contributes to Leaky Gut.

The chemicals secreted during the stress response are linked to intestinal permeability (leaky gut), inflammation, overgrowth of bad bacteria, and decreased microbial diversity that can alter immune function. These are significant root causes of eczema that need to be addressed to completely heal it.

  • You can react to the mycotoxins found in coffee. 
  • Mycotoxins are toxins produced by fungi and the 2 commonly found in coffee are ochratoxin A and aflatoxin B1. These compounds are known to be immunosuppressive, carcinogenic, and brain damaging among other health problems. Chronic, low level exposure can build up in your system causing an immune response that can promote inflammation.

    But what if caffeine isn’t an eczema trigger for you? Can it still affect your eczema in negative ways? 

    Possibly.

    For many people, coffee can raise their stress and anxiety levels, possibly leading to a flare-up. If you drink a lot of coffee, far more than the average 2 cups a day, then you might find yourself getting dehydrated. This can lead to your skin not retaining enough moisture, exacerbating a flare-up.

    Solution

    If you discover that you have a flare-up whenever you come in contact with caffeine, you might have to completely cut it out of your diet. Cutting any food out of your life can be difficult, and even more so when it is a delicious and useful drink like coffee. And sadly, you should keep in mind that decaffeinated coffee and tea still have small amounts of caffeine in them, so they are still on the no-no list. 

    If your eczema child is triggered by caffeine, make sure that you cut chocolate and soft drinks out of their diet. There are many herbal teas and different varieties that have absolutely no caffeine in them, so you can still have yourself a hot beverage that could replace your morning shot of espresso. We realize that it can be difficult, but the trade might be worth it.