Atopic dermatitis, atopic eczema, or eczema? A systematic review, meta-analysis, and recommendation for uniform use of ‘atopic dermatitis’

R. Kantor, J. P. Thyssen, A. S. Paller, J. I. Silverberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Background: The lack of standardized nomenclature for atopic dermatitis (AD) creates unnecessary confusion for patients, healthcare providers, and researchers. It also negatively impacts accurate communication of research in the scientific literature. We sought to determine the most commonly used terms for AD. Methods: A systematic review of the MEDLINE, EMBASE, and LILACS (1945–2016) for the terms AD, atopic eczema (AE), and multiple other eczematous disorders. Results: In MEDLINE, 33 060 were identified, of which 21 299 (64.4%) publications used the term ‘AD’, 15 510 (46.9%) ‘eczema’, and only 2471 (7.5%) AE. Most of these publications used the term AD (82.0%) or eczema (70.8%) without additional nomenclature; only 1.2% used AE alone. Few publications used the terminology ‘childhood eczema’, ‘flexural eczema’, ‘infantile eczema’, ‘atopic neurodermatitis’, or ‘Besnier's prurigo’. AD was rarely used until the late 1970s, after which it became the most commonly used of the three terms and continuously increased until 2015. Atopic eczema decreased between 2008 and 2015. Atopic dermatitis was the most commonly used term in studies across almost all publication types, languages, and journals. Conclusion: Atopic dermatitis is the most commonly used term and appears to be increasing in popularity. Given that eczema is a nonspecific term that describes the morphological appearance of several forms of dermatitis, we strongly suggest the use of a more specific term, AD, in publications, healthcare clinician training, and patient education. Support from researchers, reviewers, and editors is key to success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1480-1485
Number of pages6
JournalAllergy: European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • atopic dermatitis
  • atopic eczema
  • eczema
  • nomenclature
  • terminology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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