Atopic dermatitis


Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is a chronic skin condition characterized by dry, scaly, and itchy skin. It can occur during childhood and persist throughout a person’s life. The appearance of atopic dermatitis varies depending on skin color, with light-skinned individuals experiencing red rashes, while those with darker skin may develop brown, purple, or gray rashes. It’s important to note that atopic dermatitis is not contagious.

In addition to the physical symptoms, people with atopic dermatitis are at an increased risk of developing food allergies, hay fever, and asthma. The condition tends to flare up periodically, causing irritation. However, by practicing good skincare habits such as regular moisturizing, itchy sensations can be relieved, and new outbreaks can be prevented. Treatment options for atopic dermatitis may involve the use of medicated ointments or creams.


The signs and symptoms of atopic dermatitis (eczema) can arise anywhere on the body and differ greatly from person to person.

They may consist of:

  • Dry and cracked skin
  • Itching that could be severe
  • Skin rash that is puffy and has a color that varies based on the skin tone
  • Red, brown, purple, or gray rashes
  • Crusting or fluid filled bumps
  • Thickened skin
  • Darkening of the skin around the eyes
  • Raw, sensitive skin from scratching

Atopic dermatitis typically starts before the age of 5 and can persist throughout adolescence and adulthood. In certain cases, it may have flare-ups followed by periods of remission, which can last for several years.

If you or your child experience symptoms of atopic dermatitis, such as discomfort that affects sleep and daily activities, develop a skin infection with new streaks, pus, or yellow scabs, or have persistent symptoms despite self-care attempts, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional. Additionally, immediate medical attention should be sought if there is a fever accompanied by an infected-looking rash.


Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, can be attributed to two main factors. Firstly, certain individuals may have a gene variation that compromises the skin’s ability to provide adequate protection. This results in a weakened barrier function, making the skin more susceptible to moisture loss and less effective at shielding against bacteria, irritants, allergens, and environmental elements like tobacco smoke. Secondly, another group of people develop atopic dermatitis due to an overabundance of the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus on their skin. This bacterial overgrowth disrupts the balance of beneficial bacteria and further compromises the skin’s barrier function.

In either case, a weakened skin barrier function can trigger an immune system response, leading to inflammation of the skin and the manifestation of other symptoms associated with atopic dermatitis. It is important to note that atopic dermatitis is just one type of dermatitis, alongside conditions such as contact dermatitis and seborrheic dermatitis (commonly known as dandruff). It is essential to understand that dermatitis, including atopic dermatitis, is not contagious.

Risk factors

A significant contributing factor to the development of atopic dermatitis is a history of eczema, allergies, hay fever, or asthma. Additionally, the presence of these conditions among family members further elevates the risk.