What is Eczema?

Eczema or atopic dermatitis is a form of dermatitis, or inflammation of the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin).

The term eczema is broadly applied to a range of persistent skin conditions. These include dryness and recurring skin rashes that are characterized by one or more signs/symptoms such as redness, skin edema (swelling), itching and dryness, crusting, flaking, blistering, cracking, oozing, or bleeding.

 Other types of eczema include hand dermatitis, nummular dermatitis, and seborrheic dermatitis.

Most people (90%) develop atopic dermatitis before age 5. About 50% of people who develop atopic dermatitis during childhood continue to experience signs and symptoms usually less severe as an adult.

Eczema/atopic dermatitis is not contagious, so there is no need to worry about catching it or giving it to someone. This skin condition tends to run in families. People who get atopic dermatitis usually have family members who have eczema, asthma, or hay fever.