Life with Atopic Dermatitis

The symptoms aren't just visible.

Flare-ups aren't just uncomfortable. Often, atopic dermatitis (also known as atopic eczema) requires daily attention to keep the itching and rash under control. Steroids, lotions and creams can help with your flare-up; but it can feel like there isn't much you can do to keep a flare from happening again. Symptoms of anxiety and depression have been reported among people with atopic dermatitis.

That’s why understanding the underlying cause of atopic dermatitis is important. After all, atopic dermatitis can be frustrating and embarrassing and make you feel self-conscious about your appearance. But understanding the immunological causes can help you understand your skin better and help you find new ways to cope with your disease.

Stories From Real Patients

Millions of people suffer from a chronic form of atopic dermatitis.

Flare-ups can have a noticeable impact on your daily life. Hear from one patient living with chronic atopic dermatitis and how flare-ups affect her.


People often just say it’s your skin, it’s fine, you still have your limbs, you’re still able to walk, you’re still able to get out of bed, this is not life threatening, you’re not going to die from this. But you know, it is quite traumatizing − the lack of sleep, the emotional turmoil and what I like to call psychological warfare eventually takes its toll.

The biggest impact my eczema’s had on my life has been the lack of sleep. I do not think that I have slept a full night since I was a baby. That itch can lead to so much anxiety and so much emotional turmoil because your mind wants you to stop but your body needs you to keep going and then your hands do so much damage to your skin and that becomes a vicious cycle of stress. I have often scratched to the point of open sores or wounds and that level of discomfort is unbearable. That’s when I usually call in sick or I am not able to, you know, continue on with day-to-day functioning.

Atopic dermatitis has definitely had an impact on any new person that I meet and in any social gathering but specifically when it comes to dating and intimacy, I find it very stressful. You know, when I first met my husband he did not know a single person who had ever had atopic dermatitis. He barely even knew what it was. You know, he also underestimated what this meant for me and what this would mean for us going forward. He wants to help but he doesn’t know how. And sadly for him, I think this has impacted his sleep as well. So I don’t sleep at night and neither does he. It does sometimes impact the level of intimacy and the level of comfort that we are able to have. Now, five years in, we are at a good point. But in the beginning stages of our marriage, when we were first living together, I think he didn’t understand why I didn’t always want to be hugged. I didn’t always want to be touched. I didn’t always want to hold hands even just walking down the street. And now I think he understands that it’s not about him and it’s not about our relationship but it’s about how I’m feeling and that has been a really big struggle and a big hurdle we’ve had to overcome in our marriage.

To me I look in the mirror and I see somebody who was just ugly. And it’s sad to say but that’s just the reality, like you don’t value yourself at all. You look in the mirror and you see something that’s gross and disgusting.

So I think there was a point where I was very depressed. And there’s still a point where there are days where I don’t want to get out of bed because you don’t want to face people and you certainly don’t want to have your best foot forward be, you know, open wounds and sores and marks on your face that people see.

I constantly fear that my child will also have eczema. The thought of this baby, male or female, having this from infancy to adulthood, I don’t know if I can cope. And I am not sure that I’m equipped to cope with managing my own condition and then managing for this child as well.

  • Atopic dermatitis occurs
    more often in women than men.

  • Three percent of adults worldwide
    struggle with atopic dermatitis,

    a chronic form of eczema.

  • Atopic dermatitis occurs in
    people of all races.

Discover Coping Strategies

Do these quotes sound like you? Select each box to find out more about ways you can help manage atopic dermatitis.

  • Eventually, my skin will literally split, sometimes with blood. It's so dry that it feels like there's a shell on my skin.”* Rene, 42

    Atopic dermatitis is an immunological disease that is often mistakenly thought of as just a skin condition. But understanding the factors that cause flare-ups can help you cope.

    Learn how it works
  • One of the reasons I stopped playing soccer was because of eczema. I couldn't get it under control.”* Sarah, 29

    Atopic dermatitis can affect more than your physical health—it can also affect your emotional health. Learn how to combat atopic dermatitis by focusing on your emotional wellness.

    Find out more
  • It's being in constant pain or discomfort all the time. And it feels like, after a while, that there's nothing I can do about it.”* Rene, 42

    Keeping an open dialogue with your doctor and connecting with other people who suffer from atopic dermatitis can help you learn about new innovations that may help.

    Join the community

*Individual experiences may vary.