Why I’m supporting the Trial of food allergy IgE tests for Eczema Relief (TIGER) study

Hannah’s story, as a lay member of the research team

“Having had eczema my entire life, it came as no surprise when my daughter first showed signs at a couple of weeks old. I raised it with the GP, and was given the usual prescription for a weak steroid cream (to be used initially for a week), alongside regular application of an emollient.

As Imogen began weaning her eczema worsened. I was reticent to progress to stronger steroid creams – it felt counter-intuitive when I try to live and eat fairly organic and ‘clean’. Knowing through trial and error with myself certain foods can aggravate my skin, I remember asking if food allergy testing was now an option. I don’t remember the conversation exactly, but in essence the GP said no research had been done to determine whether food allergy testing would be helpful in the treatment of eczema and that traditional eczema care was the best option. I felt really frustrated that in the last 30+ years since my mother had had the same conversation with my GP nothing had changed.

Around this time I attended a public engagement event for families with young children. It was there I met the University of Bristol Patient Public Involvement (PPI) team and learned they were looking for parents of children with eczema to support research. I was so pleased that, not only is research actually happening (something which is so badly needed), but to also have the opportunity to input – I of course signed up!

My first experience as member of the parent advisory group on the Best Emollients for Eczema (BEE) Study. I was later asked if I’d like to get involved with the TIGER study, which will answer the question “Does dietary advice based on skin prick food allergy tests improve disease control in children with eczema?” As a lay co-applicant, I have been able to input to the design and rollout of the trial, helping the researchers avoid any blind spots and helping them keep focused on the patients.

Only by people taking part in the TIGER trial will we ever know whether food allergy tests are helpful in the treatment of eczema. And only then will GPs be able to refer on, or reassure parents about, this issue.

Published 9 January 2024