Atopic dermatitis or eczema is an allergic, inflammatory, chronic, non-contagious and very itchy skin disorder. The skin of a patient with eczema reacts abnormally to irritants, foods, dust, mites, pollen and other allergens to become red, flaky and very itchy. The skin also becomes vulnerable to bacterial infections.
In the last several decades, eczema has become dramatically more common, especially among children. It now affects almost 20% of all children and up to 3% of adults in industrialized countries; its prevalence in the United States alone has nearly tripled in the past thirty years.
I have written about it before:
- Dear Dr Cannell: Sun exposure, vitamin D, and eczema. Posted on November 17, 2012 by John Cannell, MD
- Vitamin D and sun exposure: Eczema update. Posted on September 22, 2012 by John Cannell, MD
- Dear Dr. Cannell: Allergies. Posted on May 29, 2012 by John Cannell, MD
Dr Aysegul Akan and colleagues in Ankara, Turkey, have conducted an interesting study of 74 children with eczema whose initial average vitamin D levels was around 11 ng/ml. They conducted a cross-sectional study, looking at several factors at only one time period.
Akan A, Azkur D, Ginis T, Toyran M, Kaya A, Vezir E, Ozcan C, Ginis Z, Kocabas CN. Vitamin D Level in Children Is Correlated with Severity of Atopic Dermatitis but Only in Patients with Allergic Sensitizations. Pediatr Dermatol. 2013 Jan 7.
The authors conducted skin tests on the kids to check for allergic sensitization. They also grouped the children as to the severity of their eczema as mild, moderate or severe.
They found that in children with positive skin tests, those that were sensitized, vitamin D levels correlated inversely with severity of the atopic dermatitis, the lower the vitamin D level the worse the eczema. Vitamin D was not correlated with total IgE levels or eosinophil percentage in either group.
If your child has eczema, start giving him vitamin D3, about 1,000 IU for every 25 pounds of body weight per the Vitamin D Council’s recommendations. When you calculate dose, round up; so a thirty pound child would take 2,000 IU/day and a 55 pound child would take 3,000 IU/day. It may take a while – several months – but based on what the evidence we have today, the eczema should improve with time.