Background/objectives: Diet is a common concern for individuals with atopic dermatitis (AD) and their families. Studies regarding the effect of dietary interventions on AD exist, but many are limited by small size and poor design. Conflicting results present a challenge to clinicians seeking to counsel patients. The aim of the current review is to examine the published literature and generate helpful conclusions for clinicians faced with dietary questions in AD.
Methods: A PubMed search was performed focusing on dietary interventions for AD in children and adults through July 2016. The search was limited to the English language and included studies that evaluated one or more forms of dietary modification for the treatment of AD. Studies of supplementation, such as with vitamins, minerals, or probiotics, were not included, nor were studies on prevention of the development of AD. A total of 43 articles met the inclusion criteria and were included in the final analysis.
Results: Trials varied in type, duration, and the AD patient populations studied. Overall, there is some level I evidence to support specific exclusion diets in preselected patients but insufficient evidence for strict elimination diets (diets that are typically limited to six to eight foods). Data supporting other interventions are mixed and based on small, poorly designed studies.
Conclusions: A comprehensive literature review reveals some promising results and several areas in need of further study. More evidence is needed to form a strong foundation for recommendations regarding the utility and role of elimination diets in AD management, but current evidence suggests that strict diet management is not effective in the treatment AD in the vast majority of patients.
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