Which physical findings are characteristic of atopic dermatitis (eczema) in infancy?

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

AD is usually noticed soon after birth. Xerosis occurs early and often involves the whole body; the diaper area is usually spared.

The earliest lesions affect the creases (antecubital and popliteal fossae), with erythema and exudation. Over the following few weeks, lesions usually localize to the cheeks, the forehead and scalp, and the extensors of the lower legs; however, they may occur in any location on the body, usually sparing the diaper area and the nose. Lesions are ill-defined, erythematous, scaly, and crusted (eczematous) patches and plaques.

Lichenification is seldom seen in infancy. A typical presentation is shown in the image below.

Typical atopic dermatitis on the face of an infant Typical atopic dermatitis on the face of an infant.

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