Vitamin D supplementation may improve symptoms of atopic dermatitis, according to research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. The researchers report that vitamin D is a safe and well-tolerated form of treatment for the skin condition.
Atopic dermatitis (AD), a type of eczema, is an inflammatory chronic skin disorder that causes the skin to itch. People with atopic dermatitis often experience periods of illness ‘flare’ and remission.
Zbigniew Samochocki, MD, PhD, and colleagues aimed to assess the correlation between vitamin D levels and AD symptoms, and evaluate the influence of vitamin D supplementation on AD.
The researchers included 95 patients with AD between the ages of 18 and 50 and 58 age and gender matched healthy controls. Vitamin D levels were assessed and compared between the two groups, and severity of AD was measured by a dermatologist.
Mean vitamin D levels were not statistically different between the AD and control groups (23 ng/ml and 24 ng/ml respectively). Interestingly, mean serum levels in 44 males with AD (20 ng/ml) were significantly lower than in 51 females with AD (26 ng/ml). Additionally, the frequency of bacterial skin infections and winter exacerbations were higher in patients with AD who had low vitamin D levels. Eighty two percent of patients with levels below 30 ng/ml had bacterial skin infections compared with 17% patients with levels >30 ng/ml. The authors attribute this to vitamin D’s potential immune protective properties.
The researchers selected 22 patients with the lowest vitamin D levels (7 ng/ml) who had histories of skin infections to supplement with 2000 IU vitamin D3 daily for 3 months. Mean vitamin D status improved to 13 ng/ml, although none of the participants reached sufficiency. Following supplementation, AD symptoms significantly improved, as reported by a dermatologist evaluating the participants before and after treatment.
The researchers call for large scale, randomized trials to further explore their results.