Atopic eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a type of inflammation of the skin (dermatitis) that results in itchy, red, swollen, and cracked skin. It’s the most common form of eczema, a condition which causes the skin to become itchy, dry and cracked.

Atopic refers to a collection of diseases involving the immune system, including atopic dermatitis, asthma and hay fever. Dermatitis is inflammation of the skin.

Atopic eczema is more common in children, often developing before their first birthday. However, it can also develop for the first time in adults. The condition tends to come and go unpredictably, with flare-ups often occurring.

Atopic Eczema

In atopic dermatitis, the skin’s protective barrier is not working properly. This leads to moisture loss and a buildup of bacteria and irritants. This can trigger the body’s immune system, leading to inflamed, irritated skin.

The exact cause of atopic eczema is unknown, but it is clear it is not down to one single thing. Atopic eczema often occurs in people who get allergies. It’s likely related to the body’s immune system overreacting to certain triggers. Common triggers of atopic eczema can include irritants like soaps and detergents, changes in weather, stress, and allergens like dust mites or pet dander.

While there’s no cure for atopic eczema, treatment can help to control the symptoms. Treatment often includes regular use of emollient skin care products to keep the skin moisturized and using topical corticosteroids to reduce inflammation during flare-ups.

Causes of Atopic eczema

Atopic eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a condition that makes your skin red and itchy. It’s common in children but can occur at any age. The exact cause of atopic eczema is unknown, but it’s thought to be linked to various factors.

1. Genetic Factors: Atopic eczema tends to run in families, suggesting a genetic component to the disorder. Certain genes may make some people more susceptible to the condition.

2. Immune System Dysfunction: Some research suggests that atopic eczema may be caused by a problem with the immune system. The body’s immune system may overreact when confronted with irritants, leading to inflammation and the red, itchy skin characteristic of eczema.

3. Environmental Triggers: Certain factors in the environment, such as dust mites, pet dander, or pollen, may trigger an episode of atopic eczema.

4. Skin Barrier Defects: People with eczema often have a defect in their skin barrier. This means their skin doesn’t retain moisture well and is more susceptible to irritants and allergens.

5. Allergies: Some people with atopic eczema also have allergies, suggesting that allergic reactions may contribute to the disorder. These could be food allergies or inhalant allergies for example to pollens, dust, or certain animals.

6. Stress: Stress can be a trigger for some people, although it is not a direct cause of eczema, it can make symptoms worse.

Remember, not everyone will experience the same triggers, and it may take some time to recognize what causes flare-ups in your individual case. As always, you should consult with a healthcare professional if you’re experiencing symptoms of eczema.

Risk Factors of Atopic eczema

Atopic eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a long-term condition that causes skin to become itchy, red, dry, and cracked. It’s most common in children, usually developing before their first birthday. Here are some risk factors of atopic eczema:

1. Genetics: Atopic eczema tends to run in families, suggesting a genetic component. If one or both parents have the condition, the child is more likely to develop it.

2. Allergies: People with certain allergies such as asthma and hay fever may be more likely to develop atopic eczema. This is because these conditions are all ‘atopic’, meaning they involve an overreaction of the body’s immune system.

3. Age: Atopic eczema is more common in children, however, it can appear at any age.

4. Environment: Dry climates, cold weather, and sudden temperature changes can trigger eczema flare-ups.

5. Skin Irritants: Exposure to certain chemicals, fabrics, soaps, fragrances, and other substances can irritate the skin and increase the risk of developing atopic eczema.

6. Stress: Although not a cause of eczema, stress can worsen symptoms or cause flare-ups.

7. Health Conditions: Certain health conditions, such as obesity and autoimmune diseases, can potentially increase the risk.

8. Diet: Some foods can trigger eczema flare-ups. The common food allergens, such as dairy products, eggs, nuts, seeds, soy products, and wheat, may potentially increase the risk.

Please keep in mind that having a risk factor does not mean that a person will definitely get atopic eczema. Different people can be affected in different ways.

Signs and Symptoms of Atopic eczema

Atopic eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a common condition that often starts in childhood but can occur at any age. The primary characteristic of this condition is dry, itchy skin. In addition to this, you may observe the following signs and symptoms:

1. Redness and Swelling: The affected area of the skin generally becomes red and swollen due to inflammation.

2. Dry Skin: Itchy, flaky skin is another common symptom. The skin may also look thick, cracked, or scaly.

3. Rash: Rashes usually appear on hands, feet, face, back of the knees, or the front of your elbows, but they can appear on other areas as well. These rashes can often lead to a cycle of itching and scratching, causing the skin to thicken and become even itchier.

4. Infection: If the skin is scratched too much, it may break and make way for bacteria to enter, leading to a secondary skin infection.

5. Discoloration: Over time, the constant inflammation and scratching cycle can cause the skin to darken or lighten in some spots.

6. Difficulty Sleeping: The itching can be particularly bad at night and may cause disruptions in sleep.

7. Oozing or Crusting: In some severe cases, small bumps may form that ooze fluid and crust over when scratched.

Remember, the above symptoms can vary in severity from person to person. It’s also common for these symptoms to flare up for a while and then improve. It’s important to see a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment if you or someone else might have atopic eczema.

Diagnosis Atopic eczema

Atopic eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a common skin condition that primarily affects children but can also affect adults. It’s often thought of as a part of the ‘atopic triad’ which also includes hay fever and asthma.

The term ‘atopic’ refers to a collection of diseases for which there is an inherited tendency to develop, including eczema, asthma and hay fever. Eczema on the other hand, refers to inflamed skin.

Atopic eczema is characterized by dry, itchy and red skin. It can occur anywhere on the body but is most commonly found on the hands, insides of the elbows, backs of the knees and face and scalp in children. The condition can lead to skin infections, mainly due to constant scratching which can break the skin and let bacteria in.

The exact cause of atopic eczema is not known, but it’s likely due to a combination of genetic, environmental and immune system factors. It’s often associated with an overactive response by the body’s immune system to an allergen or irritant.

Atopic eczema is typically diagnosed based on a physical examination and considering the patient’s symptoms and medical history. There is no specific test for it; however, sometimes allergy tests may be advised to determine whether specific allergens might be triggering the symptoms.

The aim of the treatment is to hydrate the skin, reduce inflammation and prevent flare-ups. Emollients (moisturizers) are used to keep the skin moist and corticosteroid creams or ointments may be used to decrease inflammation. In severe cases, stronger medications may be needed.

Lifestyle changes can also be beneficial–including avoiding triggers, maintaining a regular skincare regimen, and making dietary modifications as needed. Atopic eczema is a chronic condition and may flare up periodically, but it can usually be managed with a combination of medications, self-care techniques, and, in some cases, allergy-avoidance strategies.

Treatment of Atopic eczema

Atopic eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a condition that makes the skin red, dry, and itchy. It’s most common in children, but can occur at any age. While there’s no cure, the condition can be managed with a variety of treatments.

1. Topical Treatments: The most common form of treatment is the use of creams and ointments applied directly to the skin. These include emollients (which moisturize the skin), topical corticosteroids (which reduce inflammation), and topical calcineurin inhibitors (which help to prevent flare-ups).

2. Antihistamines: While they won’t treat the eczema itself, they can help to alleviate itching – particularly at night.

3. Phototherapy: In more severe cases where topical treatments aren’t effective, a healthcare professional might recommend phototherapy. This involves exposing the skin to certain types of ultraviolet light.

4. Oral Medications: In severe or persistent cases, your doctor may prescribe oral or injected corticosteroids.

5. Immunosuppressants: These are drugs that control or suppress the immune system, helping to reduce inflammation and prevent flare-ups.

6. Dupilumab (Dupixent): This is a relatively new injectable medicine for severe atopic dermatitis. It works by inhibiting overactive parts of the immune system.

Above all, it’s important to identify and avoid any triggers that can cause the eczema to flare up. This might include certain fabrics, soaps, foods, dust mites, and stress, among other things.

Remember to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the best treatment plan based on the severity of the eczema and other personal factors. Please do not self-diagnose or self-treat without proper medical advice.

Medications commonly used for Atopic eczema

Atopic eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a skin condition that causes red, itchy rashes. Various medications are used to manage its symptoms and prevent flare-ups:

1. Emollients: These moisturize the skin and form a protective barrier to prevent water loss. They are available in various forms such as creams, ointments, lotions, and bath oils.

2. Topical corticosteroids: These are anti-inflammatory medicines used to reduce redness and swelling during flare-ups.

3. Topical calcineurin inhibitors: These medicines, such as tacrolimus ointment and pimecrolimus cream, are used when topical corticosteroids are not effective. They can reduce inflammation and swelling.

4. Antihistamines: These can relieve itchiness and help with sleeping. However, there’s little evidence they help with the itch in eczema.

5. Topical antimicrobials: These are used if the eczema becomes infected with bacteria.

6. Oral corticosteroids: These are used for severe atopic eczema. However, long-term use can have serious side effects.

7. Dupilumab (Dupixent): This is a newer type of injectable drug used to treat severe eczema that’s not controlled by topical medication.

8. Immunomodulators: These drugs (such as azathioprine, ciclosporin, methotrexate) work by suppressing the immune system and are used in severe cases of eczema, often as a last resort.

Please remember that while these medications can help manage eczema symptoms, they can’t cure the condition. You should always consult with a healthcare provider for individual treatment recommendations.

Prevention of Atopic eczema

Atopic eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a common condition often appearing in families with a history of allergies. Though the disorder cannot be completely prevented, there are several strategies that can help manage and minimize flare-ups:

1. Moisturize: Keep your skin well moisturized. This can help to repair any damage to your skin’s natural barriers. You should liberally apply moisturizer to your skin at least once a day or more frequently if necessary.

2. Avoid triggers: If you notice that specific substances or conditions cause your eczema to flare up, try your best to avoid them. Common triggers can include soaps, detergents, certain foods, pet dander, dust mites and pollen.

3. Maintaining skin care: Regular washing and bathing can help to prevent skin infections. However, you should avoid over-washing as this can dry out your skin and potentially trigger eczema.

4. Dietary habits: Some people find that certain foods trigger their atopic eczema. It may be beneficial to keep a food diary to help identify potential dietary triggers.

5. Clothing: Wear smooth, soft fabrics like cotton and avoid scratchy materials like wool. It’s also a good idea to wash new clothes before wearing them to remove any potential irritants.

6. Stress management: Stress can sometimes trigger or worsen atopic eczema. Engaging in stress-reducing activities such as yoga, meditation, or deep-breathing exercises can be very beneficial.

7. Smoking and alcohol: Smoking or being around smoke can cause flare-ups, as can drinking alcohol, so it’s best to avoid these.

8. Medication: Over-the-counter creams and ointments containing hydrocortisone may help to ease symptoms. Prescription medications may also be an option in severe cases.

Atopic Eczema

Remember, it’s crucial to consult with your healthcare provider or a dermatologist to develop the most effective individualized treatment plan for managing atopic eczema.

FAQ’s about Atopic eczema

Atopic eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is one of the most common forms of eczema, a skin condition that causes red, itchy rashes. Here are some FAQs.

1. What is atopic eczema?
Atopic eczema is a chronic, itchy skin condition that is very common in children but may occur at any age. It often has a genetic component and is associated with other conditions such as asthma and hay fever.

2. What causes atopic eczema?
The exact cause is unknown, but it’s thought to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Skin irritation, stress, changes in the weather, or certain foods or substances can trigger a flare-up in some people.

3. What are the symptoms of atopic eczema?
Symptoms may include redness, skin swelling, itching, and dryness, crusting, flaking, blistering, cracking, oozing, or bleeding. Symptoms can vary significantly from person to person.

4. How is atopic eczema diagnosed?
It is diagnosed based on the appearance of the skin and review of medical history. There are no specific tests for atopic eczema, but tests may be done to rule out other conditions and to identify triggered allergens.

5. How can atopic eczema be treated or managed?
There is no cure for atopic eczema, but it can be managed with the right treatment. This can include creams or ointments to hydrate the skin and reduce inflammation, lifestyle changes to avoid triggers, and medication for severe cases.

6. Can atopic eczema be prevented?
There is no guaranteed way to prevent atopic eczema, especially if there is a family history. However, keeping skin moisturized, avoiding known triggers, maintaining a healthy diet, and managing stress can help control symptoms and prevent flare-ups.

7. Is atopic eczema contagious?
No, atopic eczema is not contagious. It cannot be passed from one person to another.

8. Can adults get atopic eczema?
Although it’s most common in children, adults can get atopic eczema too. Some people have their first symptoms in adulthood, while others have had it since childhood and continue to have symptoms as adults.

Always consult with a healthcare provider or dermatologist for any concerns related to atopic eczema.

Useful links

Atopic eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a condition that makes your skin red and itchy. It’s common in children but can occur at any age. It is chronic and tends to flare periodically. It may be accompanied by asthma or hay fever.

Below are some useful links from various journals about atopic eczema:


Remember to always refer to these academic articles through the scope of your healthcare provider’s advice. Each case of eczema can be unique with different triggers and different effective treatments.

Complications of Atopic eczema

Atopic eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a skin condition causing inflammation and intense irritation. While it primarily affects children, it can persist into adulthood or even begin later in life. Here are some of the complications associated with atopic eczema:

1. Skin Infections: Scratching the itchy skin can introduce bacteria or viruses, leading to infections. Signs include redness, pus-filled blisters, yellow crust, fever, and a feeling of unwellness.

2. Sleep Disturbance: Because of the constant itching, those with atopic eczema often have their sleep interrupted, which can lead to problems such as fatigue and mood changes.

3. Asthma and Allergies: People with atopic eczema are more likely to develop other allergic conditions like asthma and hay fever.

4. Eye Problems: Chronic atopic eczema around the eyes can lead to cataracts or other eye issues. Eye rubbing in response to itchiness can worsen the situation.

5. Mental Health Issues: The chronic nature of the disease, the need for constant care of the skin, and sleep disturbances can lead to stress, anxiety, depression, and similar psychological problems.

6. Skin Thickening: Repeated scratching can harden or thicken the skin (lichenification), which can then develop into a permanent itch.

7. Irritant Hand Dermatitis: This tends to occur in those who have their hands in water frequently or who come into contact with many soaps, detergents or aggressive solvents.

8. Eczema herpeticum: A severe and potentially life-threatening infection caused by the herpes simplex virus.

Remember to always consult with a healthcare professional if you suspect any of these complications. They can provide accurate diagnostics and appropriate treatment options.

Home remedies of Atopic eczema

Atopic eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a skin condition that can cause skin sensitivity, redness, and itching.

Though there is no cure, some home remedies can help to manage the condition and reduce symptoms:

1. Moisturizing: Applying a moisturizer on your skin can help to keep it hydrated and lessen the severity of the condition. This is especially important after baths when the skin is soft and capable of retaining moisture. Use fragrance-free products to prevent irritation.

2. Use mild soaps or non-soap cleansers: These products are gentle on the skin and won’t dry it out or irritate it. Be sure to pat the skin dry gently instead of rubbing to avoid further irritation.

3. Cold compress: Applying a cold, damp cloth directly to the area can help to ease itching during flare-ups.

4. Lukewarm baths: This can help moisturize the skin and relieve itching. After bathing, it’s best to pat dry and apply moisturizer while your skin is still damp.

5. Avoid triggers: Many factors can trigger flare-ups, such as certain foods, dust mites, pet dander, or harsh detergents. Paying close attention to your triggers and avoiding them can help manage the symptoms.

6. Consider natural supplements: Some people find relief through certain natural supplements, like fish oil or probiotics. However, you should always consult your doctor before starting any new supplement regimen.

7. Maintain a cool, humid environment: Dry and hot conditions can worsen symptoms. Using a humidifier and keeping the temperature cool can help.

It’s important to remember that what works for one person may not work for another. If your symptoms are severe or don’t improve with home remedies, it’s important to see a healthcare provider. They can provide treatment options and advice tailored to your specific needs. This condition can sometimes be associated with other allergies or asthma, so professional advice may be needed.

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Last Update: January 11, 2024