Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is a non-contagious inflammatory skin condition. 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.
Why Is the Study of Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis) a Priority for NIAID?
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is an 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.
How Is NIAID Addressing This Critical Topic?
NIAID conducts and supports basic research in allergy and immunology that increases our understanding of the immune system and how it contributes to the development of atopic dermatitis and its complications. NIAID also funds patient-centered research to explore the genetic determinants of eczema and to evaluate new strategies to prevent and treat the disease.
To learn about risk factors for eczema, different types of eczema and current prevention and treatment strategies visit the National Library of Medicine page on eczema.
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Causes & Strategies for Prevention
A combination of genetic and environmental factors appears to be involved in the development of eczema. Children whose parents have asthma and allergies are more likely to develop atopic dermatitis than children of parents without allergic diseases. Approximately 30 percent of children with atopic dermatitis have food allergies, and many develop asthma or respiratory allergies. People who live in cities or drier climates also appear more likely to develop the disease.