Eczema (also known as dermatitis) is a dry skin condition. It is a highly individual condition which varies from person to person and comes in many different forms. It is not contagious so you cannot catch it from someone else.
In mild cases of eczema, the skin is dry, scaly, red and itchy. In more severe cases, there may be weeping, crusting and bleeding. Constant scratching causes the skin to split and bleed and also leaves it open to infection.
Eczema affects people of all ages but is primarily seen in children. However, those who ‘grow out’ of eczema during early childhood may see it recur again in later life.
Atopic eczema is a genetic condition based on the interaction between a number of genes and environmental factors. In most cases, there will be a family history of either eczema or one of the other ‘atopic’ conditions (ie asthma or hay fever).