College of DuPage Nursing Student Elijah Delosreyes shared with Healthy Lombard that Eczema affects up to 15 million Americans, making it one of the most common skin problems in the western world (Boguniewicz, 2019). Eczema may be difficult to manage because the exact cause of it is unknown (National Eczema Association, 2021). It is characterized by a general skin irritation resulting in a red, itchy rash that can sometimes have oozing and yellow discharge. There are dozens of different types of eczema and 10% to 20% of infants are prone to have it. With the Covid worldwide shut down putting millions of people in isolation, the question looms; does the lack of sunshine to synthesis vitamin D contribute to the development, treatment, or prevention of eczema?
Eczema is generally thought of as an allergic reaction to certain irritants. Common irritants such as pollen, dust mites, and molds exist in the environment. When someone experiences an episode of atopic dermatitis, the standard treatment is to utilize over-the-counter steroid creams and antihistamines. Usually, symptoms subside given a couple of days. For more chronic and severe patients, this seemingly bearable nuisance of a discomfort can last from weeks to months or even years. New studies show that lower vitamin D levels are seen in more severe cases of eczema (Palmer, 2015).
Few Americans work outdoors these days. Because the majority work indoors there is an increased likelihood of vitamin D deficiency in addition to a mindset that respects sun exposure. It would be interesting to discover a correlation between eczema cases and the recent shift to spending more time indoors. Studies have found that patients with lower levels of vitamin D have an increased risk of atopic dermatitis, especially in children (Hattangdi-Haridas, 2019). It is also been shown that these patients had more severe cases of eczema. A deficiency in vitamin D may predispose one to eczema due to an alteration in the regulation of certain genes and the fact that vitamin D regulates thousands of genes (Carlberg, 2013). On a clear sunny day sun exposure to human skin can stimulate around 20,000 IUs of Vitamin D in only 20 minutes. Sun exposure is crucial for the synthesis of natural vitamin D, although most dermatologists recommend avoiding any type of sun due to UV radiation (Guerra, 2020).
In terms of the skin barrier function, vitamin D and the vitamin D receptor have a regulatory role in the control of the proliferation in the Stratum Basale, the layer of the skin that regulates the synthesis of lipids and proteins. Vitamin D has the potential to modulate allergy symptoms as a result of the multifaceted effects it has on altered skin barrier function, immune dysregulation, and inadequate bacterial defenses. With ongoing research being done to understand the role of vitamin D in the body, it may become a promising treatment in the battle to combat eczema.
Carlberg, C., Seuter, S., de Mello, V. D. F., Schwab, U., Voutilainen, S., Pulkki, K., … Uusitupa, M. (2013, July 29). Primary vitamin D target genes allow a categorization of possible benefits of vitamin D₃ supplementation. PloS one. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3726591/.
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Guerra, K. C. (2020, August 22). Skin Cancer Prevention. StatPearls [Internet]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519527/.
Hattangdi-Haridas, S. R., Lanham-New, S. A., Wong, W. H. S., Ho, M. H. K., & Darling, A. L. (2019, August 9). Vitamin D Deficiency and Effects of Vitamin D Supplementation on Disease Severity in Patients with Atopic Dermatitis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis in Adults and Children. Nutrients. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6722944/.
Overview of the Seven Types of Eczema. National Eczema Association. (2021, January 15). https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/types-of-eczema/.
Palmer, D. J. (2015, May 20). Vitamin D and the Development of Atopic Eczema. Journal of clinical medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4470215/.