Eczema is a term used synonymously with dermatitis. The latter is more commonly used when an external precipitating factor is present (contact dermatitis). The rashes produced have similar features but the distribution on the body varies and can be diagnostic. Atopic eczema affects up to 20% of children, in many of whom it disappears or greatly improves with age such that 2–10% of adults are affected. Atopy is a term that has been used to describe a group of diseases, for example, eczema, asthma and hay fever, which run in families.


  • The rash of eczema typically presents as dry flaky skin that may be inflamed and have small red spots.
  • The skin may be cracked and weepy and sometimes becomes thickened.
  • The rash is irritating and can be extremely itchy.



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