Atopic dermatitis is a chronic (long-lasting) disease that affects the skin. The word “dermatitis” means inflammation of the skin. “Atopic” refers to diseases that tend to run in families, and often occur together. These diseases include asthma, hay fever and atopic dermatitis. In atopic dermatitis, the skin becomes extremely itchy causing redness, swelling, cracking, crusting, and scaling.
Atopic dermatitis most often affects infants and young children, but it can continue into adulthood or first show up later in life. In most cases, there are periods of time when the disease is worse. Many children with atopic dermatitis “grow out of it” as they get older, although their skin often remains dry and easily irritated. Weather changes can activate symptoms of atopic dermatitis at any time in the lives of people who have inherited the condition.
Eczema is a rash of the upper layers of the skin. The term “eczema” is applies to a range of ongoing skin rashes characterized by redness, swelling, itching and dryness, with possible crusting, flaking, blistering, cracking, oozing or bleeding. Areas of temporary skin discoloration are sometimes present.
Contact dermatitis is a localized rash or irritation of the skin caused by contact with a foreign substance. Only the upper layer of the skin is affected in contact dermatitis.
Inflammation is present in the outer layer of skin and the outer layer under the skin. Contact dermatitis takes days to fade away. Even then, the rash fades only if the skin no longer comes in contact with the allergy causing material. Contact dermatitis results in large, burning, and itchy rashes, and these can take anywhere from several days to weeks to heal. Chronic contact dermatitis can develop when the removal of the offending agent no longer provides expected relief.