What is Eczema / Atopic Dermatitis?

Also called eczema, atopic dermatitis is an itchy, scaly rash that appears in patches on the skin. It may be on the cheeks, scalp, hands, or other places. It can appear anywhere. It is common in infants and young children, and can persist into adulthood. Eczema is an incredibly common condition that many people deal with. It is treatable, but may never go away.

Symptoms of Atopic Dermatitis

Symptoms may include:

  • Dry, scaly patches on the skin
  • Extreme itching, especially at night
  • Fluid-filled blisters where scratching has occurred
  • Thickened or cracked skin

Atopic dermatitis may be genetic. It may also be related to food or other types of allergies in some people, including hayfever and asthma.

Complications of Atopic Dermatitis

Complications may include:

  • Poor sleep (due to night itching)
  • Infection of open sores
  • Contact dermatitis (allergic skin reactions)

If you suspect any complications, please see your doctor to rule out infection or another skin condition.

Managing Atopic Dermatitis

It is possible to prevent and/or manage atopic dermatitis outbreaks in most cases. This includes avoiding known triggers (heavily perfumed soaps or detergents, known food allergies, etc.), keeping skin moisturized, and more.

Atopic dermatitis is not typically serious. It is an annoying, itchy rash that often lasts months or years, but which usually does not cause complications.

References

Atopic dermatitis: Self-care. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/eczema/types/atopic-dermatitis/self-care.

Atopic dermatitis (eczema). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/atopic-dermatitis-eczema/symptoms-causes/syc-20353273. Published June 12, 2020.

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