Atopic Dermatitis or Atopic Eczema
The word atopic means there is a tendency for excess inflammation in the skin and linings of the nose and lungs. This often runs in families with allergies such as hay fever and asthma, sensitive skin or a history of atopic dermatitis. Although most people with atopic dermatitis have family members with similar problems, 20% of them are the only ones in their family with the condition.
Atopic dermatitis is very common in all parts of the world. It affects about 10% of infants and 3% of the total population in the United States. It can occur at any age but is most common in infants to young adults. The skin rash is very itchy and can be widespread or limited to a few areas. The condition frequently improves with adolescence but many patients are affected throughout life, although not as severely as in early childhood.
Other eczema patches in this stage are typically dry, red to brownish-gray and may be scaly or thickened. The thickened areas may last for years without treatment. The intense, almost unbearable itching can continue and may be most noticeable at night. Some patients scratch the skin until it bleeds and crusts. When this occurs, the skin can get infected.
Since the disease does not always follow the same pattern, proper, early and regular treatment can bring relief and may reduce the severity and duration of the disease.