A study conducted in more than 100 Mongolian schoolchildren found that daily treatment with a vitamin D supplement significantly reduced the symptoms of winter-related atopic dermatitis, a type of eczema. Vitamin D supplementation was effective in treating winter-related atopic dermatitis in Mongolian children who were at high risk for vitamin D deficiency when compared with placebo in a recent study.
While we dont know the exact proportion of patients with atopic dermatitis whose symptoms worsen in the winter, the problem is common, says Carlos Camargo, MD, DrPH, of Massachusetts General Hospital.
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.
Ignoring the role of vitamin D
A chronic inflammatory disorder of the skin, atopic dermatitis is uncomfortable and makes patients more vulnerable to bacterial infection. Symptoms of the disorder most commonly seen in children often worsen during wintertime.
While controlled administration of ultraviolet light, which can stimulate the production of vitamin D in the skin, is a common treatment for severe atopic dermatitis, the possibility that vitamin D deficiency contributes to the seasonal worsening of symptoms had received little consideration prior to the Boston pilot study.
Significantly greater improvement
Most people meet at least some of their vitamin D need through exposure to sunlight. UVB rays penetrates uncovered skin and through a chemical reaction we ultimately make vitamin D3. However, during winter months, we are not exposed to as much sunlight, which may also explain why eczema symptoms worsen in winter. Supplements of vitamin D are readily available. Children one to thirteen years require 600 IU daily to meet the RDA. Carlos Camargo MD DrPH of the MGH Department of Emergency Medicine says that parents of children with symptoms that worsen in the winter should try a vitamin D supplement for a few weeks when symptoms flare to see if it helps.
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