Atopic Dermatitis: A disease that goes beyond the skin


Atopic Dermatitis, the most common form of eczema, is a chronic inflammatory skin disease that can have a debilitating impact on day-to-day life. 


What is Atopic Dermatitis – and who gets it?

Atopic Dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory disease with symptoms appearing on the skin. Moderate-to-severe AD is characterized by rashes and can include intense, persistent itching and skin dryness, cracking, crusting, and oozing. Itch is one of the most burdensome symptoms for patients and can be very debilitating.

Atopic Dermatitis often starts in infancy – 90% of cases are diagnosed before the fifth birthday – but it is also highly prevalent in adults. In the United States, 10-20% of children and 1-3% of adults are affected, making it one of the most common skin conditions.

Research is ongoing into its causes, but studies indicate the condition may be associated with persistent underlying inflammation in the body’s immune system.

There are also certain known concomitant diseases, such as asthma and seasonal allergies like hay fever, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. People living in developed countries, in cold climates, and in cities with high pollution levels also appear more at risk.


What are the symptoms of Atopic Dermatitis?


The pattern of symptoms varies, but it is similar in both adults and children in that the condition can be widespread or limited to only a few parts of the body.

Symptoms can include red rashes, intense itch, dryness, cracking, crusting and oozing of the skin, and they can occur on any part of the body. The rash tends to occur behind the knees and inside the elbows, on the sides of the neck, around the mouth, and on the wrists, ankles and hands. Stress, changes in weather, and sweat can often make symptoms worse.


How does Atopic Dermatitis affect daily life?


Atopic Dermatitis can have a serious impact on everyday life. The severe itching associated with Atopic Dermatitis can lead to stress and anxiety at school or work. It also often causes people suffering from AD to restrict participation in activities such as exercise and an active social life. More than a third of people suffering from moderate-to-severe Atopic Dermatitis report having sleep disturbances every night.

A U.S. survey** found that 53% of people with Atopic Dermatitis believe it has a negative impact on their life. More than 80% of people said they made lifestyle modifications – such as avoiding social engagements or sports – as a result of the condition.


How is Atopic Dermatitis treated?


Treatments have focused on managing symptoms. Topical creams, antibiotics, steroids and phototherapy are among the many treatments used to try and minimize flare-ups. However, the symptoms of 40% of people with moderate-to-severe Atopic Dermatitis remain inadequately controlled.

For many people with Atopic Dermatitis, managing severe itch, reducing lesions, and improving quality of life in the long-term management are key treatment goals.

This underscores the urgent need for a treatment that can provide effective and permanent relief.


* Mount Sinai. Patient Care Atopic Dermatitis 2016. Accessed October 31, 2016.

** Part of the national awareness campaign Understand AD, the survey of 505 American adults (18 years of age and older) who self-reported being diagnosed with moderate-to-severe Atopic Dermatitis (AD) was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Sanofi Genzyme and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

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