Atopic Dermatitis: What Is Atopic Eczema?

What Is Atopic Dermatitis?

atopic eczema

Atopic dermatitis, also known as atopic eczema, is a type of inflammation of the skin that results in irritated, itchy lesions. This can occur anywhere on the body, but is typically found on the arms, face, legs, and neck.It is diagnosed most often in childhood and can occur as an isolated case or a chronic condition. Atopic dermatitis is very common, affecting over 20% of the population at some point in their life.


The exact cause of atopic dermatitis is unknown, but it has been linked to the following factors:

  • Genetics
  • “Hygiene Hypothesis”
  • Environmental factors
    • High levels of calcium carbonate in water
    • Dust mites
    • Cold weather
  • Immune system dysfunction
  • Dietary allergens
    • Gluten sensitivity
    • Dairy allergy
  • Staphylococcus aureus bacteria
  • Chemical irritants
    • Soap
    • Cosmetics
    • Perfume


There is only one type of atopic dermatitis.


  • Dry skin
  • Flaky skin
  • Dark skin around the eyes
  • Patches of itchy skin
  • Clear discharge from the affected area
  • Skin creasing on the palm of the hand
  • Splotchy, raised lesions
  • Red, irritated skin

atopic dermatitis


Your primary care physician can diagnose atopic dermatitis, but they may refer you to a dermatologist to confirm and treat the condition.


There is no cure for atopic dermatitis, so treating the symptoms often depends on the cause. If certain factors such as chemical irritants or food allergies are causing the eczema, avoiding these products and foods can resolve the condition. If cold weather brings on your atopic dermatitis, using a daily moisturizer that is formulated for sensitive skin can reduce the likelihood of the condition. For persistent cases, your doctor may prescribe topical steroids or antibiotic ointments to alleviate the severity of the skin inflammation.

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