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Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema) - What Happens

Atopic dermatitis causes repeated attacks of itching and rash that can become quite severe. It is most common in babies and children. Some children outgrow it. But many people, especially teens and adults, continue to have relapses or to have the condition, although not as severely.2 Also, a person may get atopic dermatitis as an adult.

The condition may affect how children feel about themselves. A child may feel strange or different from other children because of the rash or restrictions in diet. The rash may make a child feel unattractive.

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Understanding Eczema -- Symptoms

Almost always, your skin will itch before a rash appears in eczema.  Typically, eczema shows itself as: Patches of chronically itchy, dry, thickened skin, usually on the hands, neck, face, and legs (but it can occur anywhere). In children, the inner creases of the knees and elbows are often involved. If scratched, dry patches of skin and open sores with crusts may develop and may get infected.

Read the Understanding Eczema -- Symptoms article > >

Complications

Some people who have atopic dermatitis get patches of lighter skin. This most often happens on the face, upper arms, or shoulders. Chronic scratching or rubbing of the skin can also lighten or darken skin color. When the condition has been successfully controlled, skin color returns to normal over time.

Skin infections can happen more often in people with atopic dermatitis. The skin may become red and warm, and a fever may develop. Skin infections are treated with antibiotics.

Eczema herpeticum results when atopic dermatitis is infected with the herpes simplex virus. This is the virus that causes cold sores and genital herpes. In this condition, the rash blisters and may begin to bleed and crust. You may also have a high fever. This is a serious infection, so contact your doctor right away.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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