• Children's Center

    Mayo Clinic Minute: Understanding childhood eczema

Atopic dermatitis, also called eczema, is a common skin affliction that often begins in children as young as 2 months. It's a chronic condition that happens because the immune system is hyperaware, and it can leave dry, scaly patches on the skin. Dr. Dawn Davis, a Mayo Clinic dermatologist, says there are medications to ease the pain and discomfort, as well as more advanced treatments.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

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This little guy has done this nightly ritual since before he could walk. Like 20 percent of kids, Max has an overactive immune system.

Dr. Davis says sometimes these patients have abnormal or partially functioning protein structures in their skin structure.

For example, your immune system recognizes something different or foreign on your skin.

"The robust immune system can sense this difference and releases chemicals due to stimulation it sees. That causes the skin to break down. The chemicals released by the immune system cause the local nerves and blood vessels to become irritated," says Dr. Davis.

And that leads to lots of redness of skin and lots of itch. That’s where lotions can really help. Dr. Davis recommends seeing a dermatologist for advanced care.