Eczema -disease affects the skin.

A dermatologist smilingAtopic dermatitis is a chronic (long-lasting) disease that affects
the skin. It is not contagious; it cannot be passed from one person to another.
The word “dermatitis” means inflammation of the skin. “Atopic” refers to a group
of diseases where there is often an inherited tendency to develop other allergic
conditions, such as asthma and hay fever. In atopic dermatitis, the skin becomes
extremely itchy. Scratching leads to redness, swelling, cracking, “weeping”
clear fluid, and finally, crusting and scaling. In most cases, there are periods
of time when the disease is worse (called exacerbations or flares) followed by
periods when the skin improves or clears up entirely (called remissions). As
some children with atopic dermatitis grow older, their skin disease improves or
disappears altogether, although their skin often remains dry and easily
irritated. In others, atopic dermatitis continues to be a significant problem in

Atopic dermatitis is often referred to as “eczema,” which is a
general term for the several types of inflammation of the skin. Atopic
dermatitis is the most common of the many types of eczema. Several have very
similar symptoms. Types of eczema are described in the box on page 5.

Incidence and Prevalence of Atopic Dermatitis