Atopic dermatitis (eczema) is an itchy inflammation of your skin. It's a long-lasting (chronic) condition that may be accompanied by asthma or hay fever.

Eczema may affect any area of your skin, but it typically appears on your arms and behind your knees. It tends to flare periodically and then subside. The cause of atopic dermatitis is unknown, but it may result from a combination of inherited tendencies for sensitive skin and malfunction in the body's immune system.

Self-care measures, such as avoiding soaps or other irritants and applying creams or ointments, can help relieve itching. See your doctor if your symptoms distract you from your daily routines or prevent you from sleeping.

Aug. 23, 2011