What Is Eczema?

Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is a chronic skin condition that produces dry, scaly patches and intense itching. Scratching of the itchy skin results in red raised spots, thickened skin and open cuts. The intense itch also makes it difficult to sleep, resulting in fatigue, poor performance at school and work, inability to perform activities of daily living and overall poorer quality of life.

Eczema can affect children and adults, males and females and people of all races and ethnicities. About 1 in 10 children in the United States have eczema, and one-third of childhood cases are moderate to severe. Most cases of eczema begin in childhood, though it is possible to develop eczema for the first time as an adult.

Studies show that four out of five children in the United States with eczema experience symptoms into adulthood, with 7 to 10 percent of the adult population being affected by the disease.

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