Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, results in itchy scaly skin. It often
affects children, especially during the first year of life.
Moisture problems in the home can come from poor ventilation, high
humidity or from wet weather and floods.
Water damage has long been associated with respiratory problems and
asthma, but previous studies on water damage or mold growth on
“atopic dermatitis” have shown mixed results.
Most of those previous studies have used questionnaires, interviews
or visual inspection on-site to determine the presence of moisture
problems at home, and those may not have been accurate, say the
“In this study, we wanted to examine the association between AD
severity and water damage by using a reliable method,” Dr. Kagmo Ahn
told Reuters Health in an email.
Ahn is a pediatric allergist at the Samsung Medical Center, Seoul,
Korea and was part of the study team.
Infrared cameras can be helpful to assess water damage in that
situation, because they’re more reliable, Ahn said. They can detect
surface temperature differences and are simple and easy to use for
identifying and measuring water damage.
As reported in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Ahn and
colleagues examined the homes of 52 Korean children with atopic
The severity of the condition was classified as mild, moderate or
severe based on a tool called Scoring Atopic Dermatitis (SCORAD).
The study team took air samples from the living room and from each
child’s bedroom. In addition, they inspected those rooms for
evidence of water damage, water stains or mold, both visually and
with the use of an infrared camera.
A room was considered to be ‘water damaged’ if the researchers found
more than two square feet of damage.
Water damage was found in 31 of the homes.
Concentrations of airborne mold were higher in homes with water
damage – but there was no difference in airborne mold between homes
with and without visible mold or water stains.
As for water damage and eczema severity, there was no association
with visual inspections alone. Water damage and eczema severity were
linked only when infrared inspections were used.
Ultimately, the authors estimated that kids living in homes with
infrared-detected water damage were 15 times more likely to have
moderate to severe eczema, rather than mild eczema. But they
indicate in their paper that this finding might not be accurate, and
additional studies in larger populations are needed to confirm it.
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In the meantime, Ahn said, it’s necessary to find leakage of water,
especially in the roof and around the windows, and to detect
precipitation entering through the gap between the windows and the
“Houses need to be repaired to prevent ongoing water leakage and to
keep appropriate level of relative humidity with 40-50 percent,” Ahn
Dr. David Rosenstreich said it was an intriguing study but he was
surprised there was such a strong association with infrared-detected
water damage and atopic dermatitis, but not with visible mold.
Rosenstreich, who the Division of Allergy and Immunology at
Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, New York, wasn’t involved in the
“That’s a little surprising because if people can see water coming
in or they can see mold growing you would think there would be an
association as well,” he told Reuters Health in a phone call.
Rosenstreich also said their findings were a little different from
what other researchers have reported about atopic dermatitis from
mold in homes, in a sense that the magnitude of the effects was much
“(The authors) raised the possibility that it may not be related to
molds at all - it may be that more moisture translates to having
more dust mites growing in the house,” he said.
Rosenstreich said dust mites need moisture to grow. If the house is
moist, you have more dust mites, and dust mites are a risk factor
for allergic children with atopic dermatitis.
Rosenstreich also said it was possible that taking measurements of
the houses on different days might have resulted in different mold
“It's very intriguing and some that makes sense but it probably
needs to be confirmed,” he said.
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1svraK5 Annals of Allergy, Asthma and
Immunology, online September 10, 2014.
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