The Coffee and Eczema Debate: What the Science Says

The internet contains conflicting advice on whether coffee can help or worsen eczema. The bottom line is that most people with eczema can drink coffee without adverse side effects. Some evidence suggests that applying caffeine treatments, such as scrubs made with coffee beans, to the skin can help with eczema symptoms.

This article looks at the research on coffee, caffeine, and eczema.

Overhead view of a person holding a cup of coffee

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Verdict on Coffee and Eczema

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a condition that causes inflamed, itchy, irritated skin. It is a non-contagious, chronic disease affecting more than 30% of the U.S. population. Eczema primarily affects children and adolescents. The cause is unknown, but genetic and environmental factors play a role.

Eczema is often associated with food allergies, but this connection is poorly understood. Studies have found that 33–63% of children with eczema also have food allergies.

Folks who work directly with roasting coffee beans can get a type of occupational asthma or allergic rhinitis, but they can consume caffeine without issues.

The caffeine in coffee may have some characteristics that can help reduce dryness and protect your skin, but more research is needed. There is little evidence that coffee can worsen eczema.


Caffeine found in coffee may help relieve eczema symptoms. A small study from Japan in 2017 found that drinking a beverage made of caffeine extracted from green coffee beans for eight weeks could improve skin health. There were only 49 women who completed the study.

The polyphenols (compounds with health benefits) found in caffeine were associated with improving dryness and the skin's ability to protect against outside substances like allergens.

Eczema skin treatments with caffeine may improve symptoms when applied to the skin. A 2019 review paper looked at several studies that found improvement in eczema symptoms when using caffeine treatments; however, there haven't been any large randomized controlled trials to analyze this possible connection further.

Caffeine has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant characteristics that may help with eczema, an inflammatory condition.


People may believe that coffee worsens symptoms, but there is little evidence that drinking coffee will worsen eczema symptoms. 

A 2017 study asked patients with eczema to report the foods they believed worsened their eczema, and coffee was not among the top foods or beverages. Some of those participants chose to reduce or eliminate coffee. Of those who drank less coffee, only 33.3% reported a subjective improvement in their skin.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology does not list coffee or caffeine as a common food allergy. It is not linked to eczema. They don’t recommend the elimination diet, and foods should only be eliminated if there is evidence that it causes an allergic reaction.

For Now, It’s a Big Maybe

There are limitations in the current research on the relationship between coffee and eczema. More information is needed to decide whether coffee can be used for eczema treatment. The good news is if you like drinking coffee or using coffee skin treatments, it is unlikely to cause any harm.

Dairy and Eczema Symptoms

Drinking coffee with milk may worsen skin symptoms if you have a dairy allergy. Cow's milk is one of the top eight food allergens. People, particularly children, with food allergies are more likely to have eczema or a skin reaction. Before ditching dairy, talk to an allergist to determine if you have an allergy. Elimination or avoidance of a food group is not recommended unless it's medically necessary.

How About Caffeine in General?

The polyphenols found in caffeine give coffee its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. When caffeine is studied, researchers usually extract the caffeine from coffee and add it to a beverage or skin treatment. 


Although different than coffee, tea contains polyphenols with similar anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. The evidence for using tea as an eczema treatment is inconclusive. More research is needed to understand the strength, concentration, and type of tea that may help with eczema. 


Though some sodas may contain caffeine which is associated with reducing inflammation, they also have a lot of sugar that is linked to inflammation. 

In a 2017 study, sugar was among the top foods or beverages that participants believed worsened their eczema. However, a small study out of Germany concluded that there is no connection between sugar and eczema.

There aren’t studies that show that soda can improve eczema.

Energy Drinks

Few studies have evaluated the impact of energy drinks on eczema. One 2020 cross-sectional study from Korea found an association between high-energy drink consumption (seven or more drinks weekly) and eczema, among other allergic conditions, compared with non-energy drinkers.

This study was conducted using a small survey of adolescents. More research is needed to understand if energy drinks do worsen eczema.

Overlapping Coffee Allergy Symptoms

Eczema and food allergies are closely related. A significant percentage of people with eczema also have a food allergy.

Coffee allergies are extremely rare, with only one case reported in the current literature, and there is limited medical research on the topic. Drinking coffee doesn’t put you at risk of developing an allergy.

People who work roasting or packaging coffee are at a higher risk of developing occupational asthma or rhinitis from breathing in fine dust particles from coffee beans. They can still consume brewed coffee without issues.

Caffeine sensitivity is an overreaction to drinking caffeine and is more common than a coffee allergy. Symptoms of caffeine sensitivity are usually not skin related and may include the following:

  • Jitteriness or shakiness
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations (skipped beats)
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Urinary urgency (needing to rush to the bathroom to pee)

Intolerance vs. Allergy

An intolerance occurs in the digestive system, whereas an allergy is a function of the immune system. For example, someone who is lactose intolerant may feel digestive discomfort because their body lacks the necessary enzyme to break down the milk. In contrast, someone with a milk allergy will have an immune response, like immediate skin symptoms such as hives and swelling.

First-Line Treatment for Eczema

Identifying and avoiding eczema triggers is key to reducing flare-ups. Different types of triggers vary from person to person and may include the following:

  • Food allergens
  • Soaps
  • Fragrances
  • Dry skin

The mainstay therapy revolves around hydrating the skin barrier when you have eczema. A really good and consistent moisturizing routine is key to treating eczema.

Coffee Beans as Skin Care?

Though there aren’t studies on using coffee grounds to treat eczema, coffee has many properties that may be good for your skin. It has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that coffee ground extract can help protect against skin damage.


Though more information is needed to declare caffeine as a safe eczema treatment, consuming coffee has not been shown to worsen eczema symptoms. If you have eczema, employing a regular moisturizing routine can help you manage it. Coffee allergy is extremely rare. Talk to a healthcare provider like an allergist to explore any concerns you have about coffee and eczema.

A Word From Verywell

If you are a coffee lover, you don’t have to stop drinking it to manage your eczema symptoms. Coffee will likely not worsen your eczema and might even help your symptoms. More research is required to understand how the caffeine in coffee and tea can potentially treat eczema. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does quitting coffee improve skin health?

    You don’t need to quit coffee to have better skin. In fact, studies have found that coffee can contribute to good skin health.

  • Is it bad to drink coffee with eczema or not?

    Studies haven’t found a strong connection between coffee and worsening eczema symptoms. It's not bad to drink coffee with eczema.

  • What other food items trigger eczema?

    A person with eczema may also have a food allergy. Contact with the food allergen may make eczema worse. The most common food allergies include cow's milk, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, fish, soy, and wheat. An elimination diet is not recommended unless you have evidence of a food allergy. See an allergist and get tested if you think you have a food allergy.

16 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Rebecca Valdez, MS, RDN
Rebecca Valdez is a registered dietitian nutritionist and nutrition communications consultant, passionate about food justice, equity, and sustainability.