Understanding Eczema

Atopic dermatitis, more commonly called eczema, is a life-long (chronic) disease that causes a red, itchy rash on the skin. The rash can appear as blisters on the skin or as red, scaly patches. Although it can show up anywhere on the body, it typically affects the hands, the elbows, backs of the knees, legs, feet, face and neck. In babies, it usually appears on the face, neck, wrists, stomach and in the folds of the skin. It typically shows up in childhood but can occur at any age. It is not contagious, yet it is very common. More than 30 million American have some form of the disease.

Atopic diseases like eczema are inherited from the parents; however, environmental factors can play a part too. Those affected by atopic dermatitis usually have risk factors affecting their immune system and the skin barrier function. This makes the skin more vulnerable to flare-ups, which spontaneously appear, worsen and then improve. During flare-ups, the dry, scaly skin can become itchy and crack, leaving it vulnerable to bacterial and viral infections such as staphe and herpes.

Although there is no cure, treatments are available to help manage symptoms and to improve the quality of life of patients and their families.

layers of the skin


  • More than 30 Million Americans have some form of the disease
  • It is not contagious
  • It runs in families who also may have allergies and/or asthma
  • Environmental factors play a part
  • There is no cure
  • It is a lifelong (chronic) disease, although many affected individuals go into remission
  • Treatments help manage symptoms and improve quality of life