The most common form, atopic eczema/dermatitis, is a chronic disease that most often begins in childhood. NIAMS estimates that 65 percent of the people with chronic or atopic eczema/dermatitis develop symptoms in the first year of life and 95 percent in the first five years. More than half of people with it in childhood will have flare-ups as adults.
* In infants, atopic eczema or atopic dermatitis typically begins around 6 to 12 weeks of age. It may first appear around the cheeks and chin as a patchy facial rash, which can progress to red, scaling, oozing skin. The skin may become infected. Once the infant becomes more mobile and begins crawling, exposed areas such as knees and elbows may also be affected. An infant with atopic eczema/dermatitis may be restless and irritable because of the itching and discomfort of the disease. Many infants get better by 18 months of age, although they remain at greater than normal risk for dry skin or hand eczema later in life.
* In childhood, the rash tends to occur behind the knees and inside the elbows; on the sides of the neck; and on the wrists, ankles and hands. Often, the rash begins with papules that become hard and scaly when scratched. The skin around the lips may be inflamed and constant licking of the area may lead to small, painful cracks in the skin around the mouth. Severe cases of atopic eczema/dermatitis may affect growth and the child may be shorter than average. The disease may go into remission. The length of a remission varies and it may last months or even years. In some children, the disease gets better for a long time, only to come back at the onset of puberty when hormones, stress and the use of irritating skin care products or cosmetics may cause the disease to flare up.
Adults can have flare-ups of dermatitis as well, and even though it is rare, first onset can happen in adulthood too.
Contact eczema/dermatitis is the result of a reaction to coming in contact with something. contact eczema/dermatitis is a localized reaction that includes redness, itching, and burning where the skin has come into contact with an allergen or with an irritant such as an acid, a cleaning agent, or other chemical. An allergen is a substance that your immune system recognizes as foreign. Some of the common causes of contact eczema/dermatitis, according to AAD include:
* nickel, which is in a number of metal products including chrome. Jewelry with a high amount of nickel can also cause problems.
* rubber, particularly latex
* hair dyes
* wet diapers
* perfumes and other fragrances
* various preservatives
* plants such as poison ivy, oak or sumac
Patch tests are often used to decide if an allergy is involved. A small amount of the suspect allergen is applied to the skin with a piece of tape. When it is removed a couple of days later a small red spot will indicate an allergy to the substance. Treatment for contact eczema/dermatitis normally involves avoiding the substance that causes the reaction.