What is Atopic Dermatitis?

Atopic dermatitis (also called eczema) causes chronic skin irritation and is frequently found in infants, teens, and adults. This disease is often genetic (runs in families). It is linked with allergies, such as hay fever and sometimes asthma. Patches of skin become dry, red, itchy, and scaly. In older adults, abnormally dry skin is often called xerosis. Sometimes, eczema is limited to the hands or feet. It often improves when the skin is well hydrated. It gets worse when the skin is dry. You can help control symptoms by practicing good self-care. Avoid anything that causes flare-ups (such as sunburn or vigorous scratching).

Where do you have symptoms?

Atopic dermatitis symptoms can appear anywhere on the body. But, in most cases, they vary based on the patient’s age. In infants, irritation appears frequently on the cheeks, chin, near the mouth, and under the eyelids. In children ages 2 through 10, skin folds, such as the backs of the knees, or in the arm crease, are most often affected. In children 11 and older and in adults, symptoms can affect multiple areas.

What triggers symptoms?

Atopic dermatitis symptoms flare because of many factors. These include skin dryness, scratching, stress, harsh soaps, and allergens, such as dust or wool. Try to avoid anything that causes flare-ups.

Recognizing what causes flare-ups

To pinpoint what causes atopic dermatitis to flare, keep a list of factors that seem to affect your skin. Start by filling in the spaces below. Then, keep writing them down in a notebook or diary. The factors that affect each person vary. So, keep your own list and try to avoid your triggers. A good starting place for treatment for anyone with dry skin is to use a daily moisturizer.

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