Atopic dermatitis is characterized by superficial skin inflammation and intense itching. Although atopic dermatitis may appear at any age, it typically begins during infancy or early childhood. It may then subside spontaneously, followed by exacerbations in late childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood. Atopic dermatitis affects less than 1% of the population.
Atopic dermatitis is a chronic, inherited skin disorder in which the immune system produces a hypersensitivity reaction to environmental allergens that are often difficult to identify.
Exacerbating factors of atopic dermatitis include irritants, infections (commonly caused by Staphylococcus aureus), and some allergens. Although no reliable link exists between atopic dermatitis and exposure to inhalant allergens (such as house dust and animal dander), exposure to food allergens (such as soybeans, fish, or nuts) may coincide with flare-ups of atopic dermatitis.