Jason T. Howland: Atopic dermatitis is a sensitivity disease of the skin, similar to asthma in the lungs, hay fever in the sinuses and food allergies in the gut.
Dawn Marie R. Davis, M.D.: It's a multisystem disorder. Inflammation affects the skin, and the skin is more sensitive than usual.
Howland: It's a chronic condition and tends to flare periodically. The symptoms vary.
Dr. Davis: Atopic dermatitis tends to be red, weepy, crusty, itchy, flaky patches, like oval or circular-shaped areas on the skin.
Our skin is like a brick wall. And over time as we age, or genetically if we are predisposed to sensitive skin, it can look like a wicker basket more than a brick wall.
Howland: Adult eczema often occurs in patches on areas of the body prone to friction or sweat.
Dr. Davis: Where your waistband would sit, where your socks or shoes would rub. If you have a watch, where you would wear your watch. If you have a headband or certain things that you wear along your neck, like a necklace or a tie.
It's important to bathe regularly. It's important to hydrate the skin with a moisturizer that is hypoallergenic. It's important to monitor for infection.
Howland: If those self-care steps don't help, your dermatologist may prescribe topical or oral medications, or other therapies.
For Mayo Clinic News Network, I'm Jason Howland.