20 October 2014

Vitamin D might help kids with eczema

Researchers have found that taking a daily vitamin D supplement may greatly reduce uncomfortable symptoms associated with childhood eczema.


Daily vitamin D supplements might help children with eczema that gets worse in the winter, a new study suggests.

When eczema, a chronic inflammatory skin disorder, flares up in the winter it's known as winter-related atopic dermatitis.

Researchers found vitamin D significantly reduced the uncomfortable symptoms associated with this disorder.

"While we don't know the exact proportion of patients with atopic dermatitis whose symptoms worsen in the winter, the problem is common," said study leader Dr. Carlos Camargo, of Massachusetts General Hospital's department of emergency medicine.

"In this large group of patients, who probably had low levels of vitamin D, taking daily vitamin D supplements - which are inexpensive, safe and widely available - proved to be quite helpful," he said in a hospital news release.

A common treatment for severe atopic dermatitis is the controlled use of ultraviolet light, which stimulates production of vitamin D in the skin, the study's authors said. In conducting their research, they explored the possibility that vitamin D deficiency - the so-called sunshine vitamin - could help explain why the condition often gets worse during winter.

Read: Eczema in kids: tips that work

How the study was conducted

The study, conducted with the help of scientists at the Health Sciences University of Mongolia, involved 107 Mongolian children between the ages of 2 and 17 from nine outpatient clinics in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar.

All of the children had atopic dermatitis that flared up in cold weather or during the transition from fall to winter. The participants were randomly divided into two groups: those who received a 1000 IU daily dose of vitamin D and those who received a placebo.

The children's symptoms were evaluated when the study began, and one month later when it ended. The children's parents were also asked whether or not they felt their child's skin condition had improved.

The study, published in the October issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, revealed the children who received the vitamin D supplements had an average 29 percent improvement in their symptoms. In contrast, the children who received the placebo had a 16 percent improvement.

Although the study authors did not determine whether or not the children in the study had a vitamin D deficiency when the study began, they pointed out that another larger study involving Mongolian children found 98 percent had low levels of vitamin D. The researchers said it was very likely the children in their study also had this deficiency.

Although more studies are needed to determine if vitamin D could help adults and children with year-round symptoms of atopic dermatitis, the researchers concluded children with symptoms that get worse during the winter months could try a vitamin D supplement for a few weeks to see if their condition improves. They advised parents to discuss the benefits of vitamin D and the findings with their child's doctor.

Read more:
Link between staph infections and eczema
Eczema may trigger food sensitivities in babies
Eczema: Ditch the itch

Image: Girl applying cream on allergic skin from Shutterstock

Copyright © 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Ask the Expert

Skin expert

Dr Suretha Kannenberg holds a degree in Medicine and a Masters in Dermatology from the University of Stellenbosch. She is employed as a consultant dermatologist by Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Academic Hospital, where she is involved in clinical duties and the training of medical students and dermatology residents. Her areas of interest and research include vitiligo, eczema and acne. She also performs limited private practice work in the Northern suburbs of Cape Town in general and cosmetic dermatology.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules