What is eczema?
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a chronic allergic skin condition mainly affecting infants and children. It often begins within the first year of life, with 60% of cases occurring by age 1 and up to 90% of cases by age 5. It may last until adolescence or adulthood. If eczema is diagnosed in adulthood, it is generally a long-term or recurring condition. Fifty percent to 75% of patients with eczema may eventually develop hay fever and/or asthma.
The main feature of eczema is itchy, dry skin that scales and flakes. Often, there is a personal or family history of eczema, hay fever, hives, food allergies or asthma. When skin itchiness is not controlled, an “itch/scratch cycle” leads to continued rubbing and scratching and subsequent thickening of the skin called lichenification.