Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)

Photo of young boy wrapped in towels sitting in a bathtub

Eczema Wet Wrap Treatment

Credit
NIAID

Eczema Wet Wrap Treatment

Credit: NIAID

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.

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.


Read more about atopic dermatitis causes and strategies for prevention

Treatment

Though there is no cure for atopic dermatitis, a treatment plan and some medications may reduce symptoms and help control the condition.


Read more about treatment for living with atopic dermatitis

Complications

The skin of people with atopic dermatitis, or eczema, lacks infection-fighting proteins, making them susceptible to skin infections caused by bacteria and viruses. Fungal infections also are common in people with atopic dermatitis.


Read more about common complications of atopic dermatitis

Clinical Trials

NIAID clinical research increases our understanding of how the immune system contributes to the development of atopic dermatitis, explores the genetic determinants of eczema, and evaluates new strategies to prevent and treat the disease.


Read more about eczema studies that are currently seeking volunteers
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