What is Eczema/Atopic Dermatitis
Patients with eczema have a weak outer skin barrier, creating “holes” in the skin that leave it unprotected from moisture loss and irritants that can cause inflammation, which leads to scaling and itching. The skin becomes itchy and inflamed, causing redness, swelling, dry skin, weeping, cracking and scaling. Scratching can cause skin thickening and lead to further complications, like a bacterial infection.
The cause of eczema is unknown, but heredity and environmental factors play a factor. Eczema is a common, chronic (long lasting) skin disease that affects over 40 million Americans. Often, other allergic diseases such as food allergies, asthma and hay fever are associated with eczema.
Most often, eczema affects infants and young children – and can persist throughout adulthood. People who live in cities or drier climates also have a higher likelihood of developing the disease.