Atopic dermatitis (also known as atopic eczema or just eczema) is an inflammatory skin condition. Latest thinking is that it is caused by the skin not functioning correctly as a barrier. It is a highly individual condition which varies from person to person and comes in many different forms. It is not contagious so you cannot catch it from someone else but it often runs in families.
In mild cases of eczema, the skin is dry, scaly, red and itchy. In more severe cases there may be weeping, crusting and bleeding. Constant scratching causes the skin to split and bleed and also leaves it open to infection.
Eczema affects people of all ages but is primarily seen in children. Those who “grow out” of their eczema during early childhood may see it recur again in later life. In the UK, one in five children and one in twelve adults has eczema.
Treatment of eczema is to mainly restore the barrier of the skin using moisturisers and not using soaps; also by making it less red, angry and itchy by using steroid and other ointments. If needed, your doctor can provide these.