I first went whole-food, plant-based in mid-2018, because a few friends had adopted the diet and seemed to have way more energy and be healthier in general, both physically and emotionally. I found it easy to make the transition. But then I got engaged and wrapped up in the demands of preparing for a wedding, and in winter 2019, I fell back on the standard American diet, which seemed more convenient. 

Painful Eczema Breakouts

Shortly after I started consuming animal products again, I noticed eczema rashes cropping up with increasing frequency. Over the next several months, the eczema spread around my body. By the fall of 2020, my hands, armpits, and elbows were covered in red, inflamed rashes. It was a good day if they weren’t cracked and oozing blood or liquid. 

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Since the eczema rashes had first appeared, I’d tried countless natural remedies to eradicate them. There isn’t much information available about how to cure or relieve eczema, so it was a difficult process, trying to figure out what might help. I tried a low-carb diet, an elimination diet, and then settled on a Paleo diet, eating no grains, few fruits, and ample grass-fed beef and dairy, which many people on the internet said would help relieve eczema symptoms. 

I also tried to treat eczema topically, with expensive creams and anything else that I read might help. Some things provided relief at first, but within two or three days, the rashes would come back even worse than before. 

Finding the Right Diet for Eczema

On Thanksgiving Day of 2020, it had gotten so bad: My hands were bleeding, swollen, and sore. The only thing left I could think to try was what I had known before: a whole-food, plant-based diet. So the following day I watched Forks Over Knives for a second time, along with several other plant-based documentaries. I cut out all animal foods and oils, and began the journey again. 

I snapped the photo you see above of my eczema the day after going whole-food, plant-based. I remember feeling so happy when I took that picture: It still looked awfully bad, but my inflammation had already started decreasing and the bleeding had stopped. That little improvement (which at the time felt like a giant leap!) empowered me to keep going. 

Within a month, the pain and inflammation significantly decreased. Within three months, the eczema rashes on my hands, armpits, and elbows completely went away. 

Since then, I have had a few flare-ups here and there, when I’ve eaten at restaurants or had refined foods, but even the flare-ups are much more manageable. 

Beyond seeing my severe eczema almost completely disappear, I’ve noticed other positive changes since going whole-food, plant-based. My acne has gone away, my bloating and constipation are gone, I have so much energy I feel like I constantly need to move, and I have returned to a healthy weight for my height. 

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These days, my husband and I keep a fully WFPB household. We love making dishes with Mexican flavors, such as tostadas and burrito bowls. And I love snacking on veggies and find that I crave them the most. My friends and family are amazed that my eczema is virtually gone, and they’re happy to see my emotional health improving. My mom and her boyfriend are now trying to eat more whole-food, plant-based, as well. 

I’m incredibly thankful for the WFPB community, and hope that others with eczema find relief by nourishing the body with what it needs to fight inflammation and build a healthy, self-healing gut. The world of eczema feels cryptic and confusing, but the WFPB diet has been empowering!

Ready to get started? Check out Forks Meal Planner, FOK’s easy weekly meal-planning tool to keep you on a healthy plant-based path. To learn more about a whole-food, plant-based diet, visit our Plant-Based Primer.

Two photos show woman's hand before and after adopting a plant-based diet. In the before photo, the hand has a rash. In the after photo, the skin is clear.
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