What is Eczema and Who Gets It?
The word eczema comes from the Greek word for "to boil over." Eczema, which is also known as atopic dermatitis, affects over 30 million Americans. Eczema is marked by dry, itchy skin and almost always makes its first appearance during infancy or early childhood. While what causes eczema is not definitively known, it is thought to be due to structural and functional abnormalities in skin cells. About 60% of eczema patients are diagnosed during their first year of life, and approximately 85% of patients experience their first outbreak before age 5. While many people outgrow eczema during childhood, some must cope with it for a lifetime.