Atopic eczema

  • Alternative Names

    Infantile eczema; Atopic dermatitis; Dermatitis - atopic; Eczema - atopic


    Typical skin changes may include:

    • Blisters with oozing and crusting
    • Ear discharge or bleeding
    • Raw areas of the skin from scratching
    • Skin coloring changes -- more or less coloring than the normal skin tone (See: Skin abnormally dark or light)
    • Skin redness or inflammation around the blisters
    • Thickened or leather-like areas, called lichenification, which can occur after long-term irritation and scratching

    Both the type of rash and where the rash appears can depend on the age of the patient:

    • In children younger than age 2, skin lesions begin on the face, scalp, hands, and feet. It is often a crusting, bubbling, or oozing rash.
    • In older children and adults, the rash is more commonly seen on the inside of the knees and elbows, as well as the neck, hands, and feet.
    • During a severe outbreak, rashes may occur anywhere on the body.

    Itching, which is sometimes intense, almost always occurs. Itching may start even before the rash appears.

    Signs and tests

    Diagnosis is primarily based on:

    • Appearance of the skin
    • Personal and family history

    The health care provider should examine the lesions to rule out other possible causes. A skin lesion biopsy may be performed, but is not always needed to make the diagnosis.

    Allergy skin testing may be helpful for people with:

    • Difficult-to-treat eczema
    • Other allergy symptoms