Myth Busting! Atopic Eczema Myth Versus Fact


Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema and while atopic dermatitis (AD) is probably most known for the intense itching it causes, it can also cause symptoms that aren't visible to the naked eye. It can be emotionally difficult to live with a chronic and visible condition like atopic dermatitis, particularly for children. AD is most common during infancy and childhood, and kids with AD may experience teasing, bullying, or avoidance from their peers because of their skin’s appearance.


Both the symptom of itching and the scratching it provokes significantly contribute to the burden of living with atopic dermatitis. The “itch-scratch cycle” as it is commonly referred to is the skin feels itchy, which leads the person to scratch, which then causes the skin to feel even itchier, this cycle then perpetuates the disease. While it may seem helpful to tell someone to stop scratching as it will reduce the "itch-scratch cycle" it isn't helpful advice to someone who is suffering from AD. The itching and scratching can lead to psychological distress, difficulty concentrating, disruption of sleep, and physical damage to the skin barrier which leads to increased water loss, increased risk of infection, increased inflammation, and lichenification (thickening of the skin that is constantly itchy).1


Atopic dermatitis is a chronic skin condition that has periods of remission and flare-ups of worsened symptoms. AD can be triggered by a number of factors, and it is important for anyone with AD to work with their healthcare provider to identify their personal triggers and avoid or prevent them whenever possible. Common triggers can be stress, allergens, sweat and excess saliva, irritants, dry skin, infection, hormones, and weather or climate, but each trigger is different for each person with the condition.


About ninety percent (90%) of all cases of AD are diagnosed in children before the age of 5 and about 65% are diagnosed before the age of 1. While some people experience remission as they age, the majority of children with AD have persistent disease into their second decade of life or longer. It is common for those who developed AD as a child outgrow it, there are about 10%-30% of people who will continue to experience relapses into adulthood.2,3

Atopic dermatitis affects approximately 17.8 million Americans, and it is not contagious! The development of AD is due to a combination of factors: a dysfunction of the skin barrier, environmental factors, genetic predisposition, and a dysfunction in the immune system.4,5

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