Atopic Dermatitis: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 11/13/2020

Atopic dermatitis, often described as eczema, is a common skin condition.

Signs and symptoms of atopic dermatitis include supersensitive skin, characterized by

  • itching,
  • dryness, and
  • reddened, raised skin plaques that can weep, ooze, crust over, or scale.

It can appear as red to brownish-gray patches, located especially on the hands, feet, ankles, wrists, neck, upper chest, eyelids, inside the bend of the elbows and knees, and face and scalp. Bleeding or secondary infection can occur with repeated scratching.

Cause of atopic dermatitis

A special type of allergic hypersensitivity associated with asthma, hay fever, and chronic skin disease causes atopic dermatitis. There is a known inherited component of the disease, and it runs in families. Environmental factors also likely play a role in its development.

Other atopic dermatitis symptoms and signs

  • Dryness
  • Itching
  • Red to Brownish-Gray Patches on the Hands, Feet, Ankles, Wrists, Neck, Upper Chest, Eyelids, Inside the Bend of the Elbows and Knees, and Face and Scalp
  • Reddened, Raised Skin Plaques That Can Weep, Ooze, Crust Over, or Scale


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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.