MANSOURA, Egypt — With temperatures falling and winter nearing, eczema sufferers may be loading up on moisturizer and medicated creams. A new study shows there may be another form of relief for those with severe cases, however. Taking a daily vitamin D supplement may decrease eczema symptoms by a third, researchers say.
Known clinically as atopic dermatitis (AD), eczema is the most common skin disorder in children. As many as one in five kids worldwide suffer from the condition. Flare-ups are particularly bad in the winter months.
Scientists from Mansoura University say vitamin D supplements could be a good treatment to help boost the immune system and help ease its uncomfortable symptoms among patients. These include red, itchy skin and intermittent flares which can have debilitating effects on a patient’s quality of life.
“Vitamin D supplementation could be an effective adjuvant treatment that improves the clinical outcomes in severe atopic dermatitis,” the authors write.
While vitamin D supplements are known to help people with mild to moderate eczema, the potential benefits for severe cases was unclear. The findings, published in the journal Pharmacology Research and Perspectives, come from a random trial of 86 patients with eczema. Participants took either a daily vitamin D supplement or a placebo for three months, in addition to standard care.
In the first known study of its kind, scientists looked at the impact of vitamin D supplements with standard treatment among children aged five to 16 with severe eczema.
“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to investigate potential benefits of vitamin D supplementation in children and adolescents with severe AD,” the study reads. “Therefore, the primary aim of this trial was to determine the impact of vitamin D supplementation in conjunction with standard treatment in severe AD.”
Dermatological examinations were carried out on all patients to assess the severity of their skin condition using EASI score. The tool is used to evaluate the severity of eczema in four areas of the body including the head and neck, the torso, arms and legs. Using a four-point scale, it then analyses the severity of the clinical signs of eczema compared with the area of the body where symptoms are present.
Vitamin D proves beneficial for children with severe eczema
Findings reveal children supplemented with vitamin D fared better than those given a placebo.
According to EASI scores, an average 56 percent of children who took supplements experienced improvements compared with 42 percent of children who did not take additional vitamin D.
Standard initial treatments for managing eczema are centered around using topical steroid preparations and skin moisturising. But patients with severe disease might turn to immunosuppressive medications which can be damaging and nearly all are not suitable for children.
Researchers say the new study suggests vitamin D supplements could be offered as another alternative to ease eczema symptoms among patients.
SWNS reporter Laura Sharman contributed to this report.