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What Is Atopic Dermatitis?

Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is a non-contagious inflammatory skin condition that affects an estimated 30 percent of the U.S. population, mostly children and adolescents. It is a chronic disease characterized by dry, itchy skin that can weep clear fluid when scratched. People with eczema also may be particularly susceptible to bacterial, viral, and fungal skin infections.

Researchers estimate that 65 percent of people with atopic dermatitis develop symptoms during the first year of life, sometimes as early as age 2 to 6 months, and 85 percent develop symptoms before the age of 5. Many people outgrow the disease by early adulthood.

Last Updated May 15, 2013