Nelson Lee Novick, M.D.
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a disease that causes itchy, inflamed skin. A substantial proportion of the US population has symptoms of eczema or eczematous conditions; 31.6 million people have symptoms of eczema, and 17.8 million for atopic dermatitis, considered a more severe form of eczema. It typically affects the insides of the elbows, backs of the knees, and the face, but can cover most of the body. AD falls into a category of diseases called atopic, a term originally used to describe the allergic conditions asthma and hay fever. AD is not contagious. Research indicates that atopic diseases like AD are genetically determined, inherited from one’s parents. A child with one parent who has an atopic condition has a one in four chance of having some form of atopic disease. If both parents are atopic, the child has a greater than one in two chance of being atopic.
Atopic dermatitis (AD) almost always begins in childhood, usually during infancy. Its symptoms are dry, itchy, scaly skin, cracks behind the ears, and rashes on the cheeks, arms and legs. It alternately improves and worsens. During “flare-ups,” open weeping or crusted sores may develop from scratching or from infections. Often the problem fades during childhood though people with AD may have lifelong tendency to:
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