Atopic eczema, also called atopic dermatitis affects mostly children and has become more common in recent years. Today, around 20% of children are affected by atopic dermatitis. Some researchers argue that the sharp increase is due to the abnormal level of hygiene maintained in the modern society. This hygiene hypothesis states that a higher level of hygiene maintained in infants during the begining of their life than before, resultes in the immune system not coming in contact with bacteria or allergens that are essential for the immune system to develop fully. The consequence is that more and more children have eczema, allergies or other health problems more frequently.
In atopic eczema the skin barrier is weakened. This condition makes the skin more prone to get rid of moisture, making it dry and cracked. Moreover, the low level of fat in the skin amongst eczema patients makes the skin barrier more exposed to greater wear. In children up to two years atopic eczema is characterized by intense itching and rashes. In young children, atopic eczema is primarily found in the face, localized on the forehead or scalp. The eczema may spread to the arms and legs, and in severe attacks it can spread to the entire body.
Children from 2 up to about 12 years suffer from atopic eczema mainly in the hollow of arms and knees. This form of eczema is characterized by thickening and dry areas with scratch wounds. It is common that even the neck, wrists around the arms and legs, as well as portions of the face are affected by rashes.
Among adults, atopic eczema is primarily seen on the arms and knees, in the face and upper torso. The rash appears through dry and scaly skin areas.
Site updated 2016-01-15