Eczema is a general term for a set of chronic skin conditions caused by inflammation. Atopic dermatitis (AD) is the most common type of eczema, and has been called the "itch that rashes." The general term “eczema” is usually used to refer to AD. The word “atopic” means an allergy that is usually hereditary, and “dermatitis” is defined as inflammation of the skin.
Eczema can be a very stressful and frustrating condition, and can make living your daily life challenging and uncomfortable. The intense, frequent itch can cause loss of sleep and days off from work, and many children have to miss school days. You may find yourself making significant lifestyle changes and even avoiding fun activities, like going to the pool or playing a sport, because of your eczema. You may wear certain clothes to cover up the way it looks. Of course, if you’re a parent, you may worry if you’re doing everything you can to help your child.
Eczema is a chronic problem for lots of people – it’s estimated that eczema affects 35 million Americans: 1-3% of adults, and 10-20% of children. Seventy percent of cases start in children younger than 5 years old, and about 60% of infants who have eczema continue to have one or more symptoms in adulthood.
Eczema can vary from mild forms, when patches of skin are slightly dry, itchy and rashy, to severe forms, when patches of skin can be extremely irritated, often leading to cracked, oozing areas. This disease typically has an intermittent course of flare-ups and remission of these symptoms. See your doctor if you believe you have signs of severe eczema.