What is atopic dermatitis (eczema)?

Updated: Mar 13, 2019
  • Author: Brian S Kim, MD, MTR, FAAD; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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Answer

Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic, pruritic inflammatory skin disease (see image below) of unknown origin that usually starts in early infancy, but also affects a substantial number of adults. AD is commonly associated with elevated levels of immunoglobulin E (IgE). That it is the first disease to present in a series of allergic diseases—including food allergy, asthma, and allergic rhinitis, in order—has given rise to the “atopic march” theory, which suggests that AD is part of a progression that may lead to subsequent allergic disease at other epithelial barrier surfaces. [1, 2]

Flexural involvement in childhood atopic dermatiti Flexural involvement in childhood atopic dermatitis.

See All About Allergies: Be Ready for Spring, a Critical Images slideshow, to help identify a variety of allergens and symptoms.


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