Atopic dermatitis or eczema is a chronic skin condition where patches of skin become inflamed, red, itchy and may look very dry and may ooze when scratched. It is common in children but can occur at any age.
Eczema may be caused by a combination of genetic, environmental and immune system factors. Although allergies may aggravate eczema, they are not the cause. In fact, recent evidence suggests the opposite may be true, eczema may cause allergies! Most cases of atopic eczema appear to be genetic, reflecting an inherited defect in skin barrier function, leading to increased water loss and resultant inflammatory changes. There is no cure for eczema, but available treatments focus on healing damaged skin and minimizing symptoms. Many children will “outgrow” eczema over time, and recent studies suggest eczema can even be prevented in higher-risk infants.