Eczema and Atopic Dermatitis | Overview


What is eczema?

Eczema is a general term for rash-like skin conditions. The most common type of eczema is called atopic dermatitis, which is an allergic reaction. Eczema is often very itchy and when you scratch it, the skin becomes red and inflamed. Eczema affects adults and children, but it is most common in babies.

What is atopic dermatitis?

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic skin condition. "Atopic" describes an inherited tendency to develop dermatitis, asthma and hay fever. "Dermatitis" means that the skin is red and itchy.

When does atopic dermatitis start and how long does it last?

Atopic dermatitis usually starts during infancy and continues into childhood. There are times when the condition gets worse (called flare-ups). Flare-ups are followed by times when the skin will heal and there may be no signs of atopic dermatitis (called remission). Remission can last for weeks, months or even years. Some children will outgrow atopic dermatitis, and others will still have it when they are adults. Flare-ups in adults tend to be less severe.

Some information taken from: National Institutes of Health. Handout on Health: Atopic Dermatitis. Accessed February 01, 2011

Written by editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 09/96