Atopic dermatitis causes repeated attacks of itching
and rash that can become quite severe. It is most common
in babies and children. Older studies indicated that most children outgrow the
condition. More recent studies report that many people, especially teens and adults, continue to have
relapses or to have the condition, although not as severely.2 Also, a person may develop atopic dermatitis
as an adult.
Infants and children (ages 2 months to 11 years)
Of children with atopic dermatitis,
approximately 50% first develop symptoms in the first year of life and 30%
between ages 1 and 5.1
Infants and children with a
food allergy that triggers atopic dermatitis are at
higher risk for developing asthma.
Atopic dermatitis 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
Teens and adults with a
history of atopic dermatitis usually continue to itch and have a rash.
When atopic dermatitis occurs for the first
time in adulthood, it is usually more severe than long-standing atopic
Although some affected adults have had no skin problems
since infancy, others have had attacks of atopic dermatitis throughout
Atopic dermatitis in adults can often be related to a
change in environment, such as going from a humid environment to a dry
environment, or increased exposure to
allergens, such as
dust mites or
Some people with atopic dermatitis
develop patches of lighter skin, especially on the face, upper arms, or
shoulders. Chronic scratching or rubbing of the skin can also lighten or darken
skin color. When atopic dermatitis has been successfully controlled, it takes
time for skin color to return to normal.
Infections caused by bacteria are common. Infected skin may become red
and warm, and a fever may develop. Skin infections are treated with
Atopic dermatitis can affect the skin and tissue
surrounding the eyes, but these eye problems are rare.
with skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis have a high risk of developing a
severe rash called eczema vaccinatum if they receive the
smallpox vaccine or touch another person?s vaccination
mark before the scab has fallen off. Although most people recover from eczema
vaccinatum, the rash can be quite severe, sometimes leading to death. People
who do not have eczema at the time of vaccination but have a history of eczema
also are at increased risk for eczema vaccinatum.