Living with
atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis (AD), the most common form of eczema, is a complex condition involving more than just the skin. On the surface, it causes the skin to become itchy and dry, but it can often have an invisible impact - such as causing problems with sleep or difficulty concentrating.

Many people have their first signs of eczema as children, often before reaching the age of 5. For others, eczema symptoms could just appear at a random point in their adult lives.

Science continues to explore the complex causes of eczema, which include the immune system and genetic factors interacting with environmental triggers. 

With ongoing research and scientific advancements over the years, there are now multiple management options which may be appropriate for people living with atopic dermatitis.

Symptoms of atopic dermatitis

With atopic dermatitis, itching can be an ever-present symptom that can:

vary in intensity
vary in severity
trigger the vicious ‘itch- scratch cycle’

Visible symptoms, that may come and go, include:

• red and dry skin
• cracked skin
• flaking patches
• thickening and scaling
• bleeding and oozing

Atopic dermatitis can also have significant on-going invisible impacts, including:

• anxiety
• depression
• self-consciousness
• lack of concentration

Persistence in seeking better dermatological care

Finding the appropriate atopic dermatitis treatment for you can include some trial and error. While this is common among people living with eczema, it can feel disappointing if a treatment approach isn’t as successful as you’d hoped.

It’s so important to keep persisting and seeking the appropriate management for your eczema. 


“Some people are reluctant to go to their GP or dermatologist because they just don’t think there’s anything else out there. But it’s just not true – there are so many different options for treating eczema”.

Kymmene, eczema patient

GP or Multidisciplinary Care Services

  • Often your GP is your first point of contact. Initially, they will perform an evaluation of your symptoms, consider factors such as your medical history and give you a diagnosis
  • Depending on the severity of your eczema your GP may think you need more specialist care, because dermatologists have access to a wider range of eczema management options. Ask your GP if a referral to a dermatologist might be right for you


  • A dermatologist is a doctor who specialises in the treatment of skin conditions
  • Dermatologists may provide more detail into your diagnosis or discuss additional management options.
  • Although dermatologists may not change your treatment regimen straight away, they may provide you with information on options to explore in the future
  • Usually, you can only speak to a dermatologist after a referral from a GP. If you feel like you could benefit from speaking with a dermatologist, talk to your GP about getting a referral. Watch this video to find out more.

Dermatology Specialist Nurse

  • A dermatology specialist nurse is a nurse who specialises in the treatment of skin conditions and will work alongside your dermatologist to support you in the management of your eczema
  • You may have more contact with your specialist nurse than other members of your care team and they will likely work with you to understand the impact of your eczema on your life.
  • Your specialist nurse may help you understand the management options available and how to use them correctly.


  • Allergists are a type of doctor that specialises in allergies and the immune system, they are often involved in treating and managing food allergies and contact allergies
  • There are allergens that may aggravate eczema flares. These can include pollen, pet dander and skin irritants like soap and fabric detergents. An allergist can help you navigate the way hay fever or other allergies may affect skin conditions.

How a conversation can break the cycle

Sometimes, revisiting your eczema management with a doctor may feel like the last thing you want to do, especially if you’ve been living with atopic dermatitis for a few years. It can feel like you’re in a cycle you’re not quite sure how to break away from.

Research in dermatology has expanded the management options for many people living with eczema, so you may benefit from an updated management plan.

Learn how re-engaging with your care could be the key to breaking the cycle and make the most of living with atopic dermatitis.


Patient Organisations 

If you are looking for further information or support there are a number of charities who provide support and information for people and families with eczema. 

They have had no editorial input into this website and the information below is not an endorsement of this website. 

Hyperlinks to Patient Organisations below are to external websites which are not under the control of AbbVie. AbbVie is not responsible for content of any such sites or any further links from such sites.

Eczema Outreach Support

"Eczema Outreach Support (EOS) helps families deal with the practical and emotional aspects of having a child with eczema. They understand the impact the condition can have on the whole family, and how overwhelming it can feel.

All their services are free - family events, webinars, school workshops, their online Facebook community, and support from their team of Family Workers. They know that eczema is different for everyone, so their help is tailored to each family's needs. When you join, your child can benefit from the High 5 Club (age 3 - 10 years), tailored support for adolescents, and the Youth Panel (age 16 - 25 years)."

National Eczema Society

"National Eczema Society is the UK charity for everyone affected by eczema. They are committed to making life easier for the 1 in 5 children and 1 in 10 adults who suffer from eczema. 

They provide information and advice for people living with eczema and their families, through their website, social media channels, publications and nurse-supported Helpline. 

National Eczema Society does not recommend or endorse any particular products."

Allergy UK

"Allergy UK is the leading national patient organisation for people living with all types of allergy. The charity offers practical advice, support and resources for people living with atopic eczema, including the impact that the condition can have on mental health."

Know the impact
of your atopic dermatitis symptoms

Knowledge is powerful - but it’s easy to miss the way a symptom of atopic dermatitis affects you in those indirect, invisible ways. This could be anything from daily activities such as loading the washing machine, to socialising with friends or even trying to concentrate at work.

Use this intuitive tool to get a better understanding of atopic dermatitis and its impact on your day-to-day life

This is the first step towards beginning a new conversation about eczema with your doctor. It’s followed by:

Explore these steps we put together to find out why having a new conversation could be worthwhile for you.

Date of preparation: April 2024, UK-IMM-240079

Date of preparation: April 2024,

This website has been funded and developed by Abbvie and is intended for UK audiences only.

@2022 AbbVie Ltd. All rights reserved. Registered Number: 08004972 England.

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Date of preparation: September 2023, UK-IMM-230189.