What is atopic skin disease?
Atopic skin disease is a term that is also used interchangeably with atopic eczema and atopic dermatitis.
Atopic eczema appears differently at different ages, but a striking behavioural characteristic throughout is scratching. Scratching of the skin begins as a reflex response to the itch of eczema.
In one of the earliest descriptions of atopic eczema, the French physician Ernest Besnier (1831-1909) called it simply "the itch", or prurigo.
Atopic skin disease
Scratching is a behaviour that is initially a reflex response to the itching of eczema. Over time any behaviour that is repeated sufficiently can become an automatic habit, and can become linked to circumstances, which then can trigger the behaviour - in this case habitual scratching.
Any skin that is repetitively scratched over time becomes thickened, an appearance called lichenification.
See here below typical lichenification with excoriation - scratch marks - on the wrist in atopic eczema: