International Academy of Cosmetic Dermatology
Atopic dermatitis (AD), sometimes called eczema, is a chronic dermatitis, beginning as early as the first months of life and usually found first on the face and on the extensor sides of the arms and legs are. It is the most prevalent childhood skin disorder, with more than 10% of children afflicted in developed countries. AD is associated with hay fever and asthma. Unlike the latter two conditions, removing an allergen such as grass, tree, or dog dander does not alleviate the condition. The word, atopic, was chosen for its meaning: strange.
The skin in AD is erythematous and dry, and acute lesions show oozing. When AD persists after infancy, there is a predilection for the creases of the elbows and knees, the face, the neck, and the hands. Chronic lesions are thick (lichenified) and dry. Pruritus (itching) is the main symptom and of prime importance in making the diagnosis. Its alleviation is one of the main goals of the treatment.
Daniel Wallach, MD