Home Page
Consumers' Section

E-mail this page   Printable View

Atopic Dermatitis: Overview and Risk Factors

Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is a common skin disease that affects about 20 percent of people worldwide. It usually begins early in life and resolves by age six. However, in many cases, the condition continues into adulthood.

The cause of this disease is not well understood, but it is known that individuals with atopic dermatitis often have other atopic diseases, including asthma, allergic rhinitis (“hay fever”), and food allergies.

The symptoms vary. In general, children have itching and red, scaly areas on the skin of the upper body, although it may occur anywhere on the body. Affected individuals are also at an increased risk for skin infections.

Risk Factors

  • Family or personal history of atopic diseases: A history of food allergy, hay fever, or asthma is associated with atopic dermatitis. About one–half of individuals with atopic dermatitis have a relative with asthma.
  • Not being breast–fed: Some evidence suggests that exclusive breast–feeding for at least the first three months of life may be associated with a reduced risk.


Atopic Dermatitis: Diagnosis and Treatment >>