What Is Atopic Dermatitis And Is It Different From Eczema?

Dr. David Hauswirth answers the question: 'Atopic Dermatitis Versus Eczema?'

ByABC News
March 25, 2008, 10:05 AM

— -- Question: What is atopic dermatitis and is it different from eczema? (What causes it and is it contagious?)

Answer: Atopic dermatitis is a very common skin disease found in both adults and children. In fact, up to 10 to 20 percent of the population at some point suffers from atopic dermatitis.

Atopic dermatitis is often used interchangeably with the term 'eczema.' Technically eczema is slightly different and is a more general term, but many physicians and patients will refer to atopic dermatitis and eczema as the same thing.

Eczema and atopic dermatitis are skin diseases where you have rough, red, dry, itchy skin. These diseases are not contagious. They are caused by a variety of factors. Genetics or allergic families tend to have more problems with eczema.

Other factors can be allergens, things that come into contact with your body such as pollens and dust. Also foods in small infants and children -- up to one-third of eczema is caused by food allergies.

Furthermore, things that irritate your skin can cause symptoms. And finally, there's been in some research that has show that the bacteria on your skin produce chemicals or byproducts that can cause an allergic reaction and lead to symptoms of eczema or atopic dermatitis.

Next: Will My Child Outgrow His/Her Atopic Dermatitis?

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