Atopic eczema - Introduction

Introduction Causes Symptoms Treatments

Atopic eczema is an inflammatory condition of the skin. Atopic is the term used to describe conditions such as eczema, asthma, seasonal rhinitis and hay fever, which often have a genetic basis. Eczema is the term used to describe changes in the upper layer of the skin that include redness, blistering, oozing, crusting, scaling, thickening and sometimes pigmentation (although not all of these changes will necessarily occur together). The words eczema and dermatitis are interchangeable and mean the same thing: thus atopic eczema is the same as atopic dermatitis. For simplicity we shall use atopic eczema in this leaflet.

Atopic eczema affects both sexes equally and usually starts in the first weeks or months of life. It is most common in children, affecting at least 10% of infants at some stage. It usually disappears during childhood, although it can carry on into adult life or come back in the teenage or early adult years. It may occasionally develop for the first time in adulthood.