Eczema is a skin condition caused by inflammation of the skin.
Atopic dermatitis is the most common of the many types of eczema. While the word "dermatitis" means inflammation of the skin, "atopic" refers to an allergic tendency, which is often inherited. Although atopic dermatitis itself is not caused by an allergy, people with eczema have a higher risk of developing other allergic conditions (like asthma or hay fever).
Typically, eczema causes skin to become itchy, red, and dry -- even cracked and leathery. Eczema can appear on any part of the body.
Eczema is a chronic problem for many people. It is most common among infants, many of whom outgrow it before adulthood.