This is an illustrative image of a crossword puzzle. One vertical word is "atopic," one horizontal word is "dermatitis." The two words intersect at the "T."Share on Pinterest
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Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a type of eczema — the most common type, actually. But if you ask any random person what eczema is, they’ll likely say, “Isn’t that just a rash?”

Anyone who’s battled symptoms like maddeningly dry and itchy skin, however, knows AD is so much more than a typical here-today-gone-tomorrow irritation. It can be a full-on chronic itch fest, not to mention a strain on your mental health.

To top it off, AD is often confused with other skin conditions and even poo-pooed as if it’s no big deal. But AD is a big deal to the more than 26 million people, including kids, in the U.S. who have it, so it can help if we all get the facts straight about this frequently misunderstood condition.

Take this quiz to test your knowledge about AD and to bust through some of the common eczema myths out there.

The National Eczema Association offers reassurance that those with AD absolutely cannot transmit it to anyone else. You also can’t contract AD from another individual. So let’s just put that ridiculous myth to bed.

Although researchers don’t yet know the exact underlying cause of AD, most types of eczema are the result of an inflammatory response when an overactive immune system revolts against a trigger and causes inflammation in the body.

Unfortunately researchers have yet to find a cure for AD or other types of eczema. That sounds kind of dire, but it’s not as bad as you might think. A range of treatments, including topical, oral, and injectable medications, can help keep the itch at bay and calm inflamed and painful skin, so that you can live your life and get some much needed relief from the mutiny against your skin.

“Atopic” actually means having a genetic tendency toward allergic diseases. And asthma, food allergies, and allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever (achoo!), are common conditions among people with AD. They all involve the immune system producing an inflammatory response when triggered. “Can’t wait for ragweed season,” said no one ever.

Sure, the names almost kind of rhyme. And sometimes atopic dermatitis and other forms of eczema can look similar to psoriasis (both conditions can cause patches of scaly, inflamed skin that itch). But these skin conditions are separate and require different treatments. They also tend to affect different areas of the body, per Penn Medicine.

While both conditions can appear anywhere, psoriasis loves to invade the scalp, elbows, knees, face, and butt, whereas eczema feels more at home behind the knees and in the inner elbow. If you have symptoms of either condition, check with a dermatologist about what might be causing them.

If only it worked that way… Although an increase in stress or going through a difficult time in your life might trigger a flare-up, stress is not the underlying cause of AD. However, self-care methods that help you find calm (like meditation, yoga, and exercise) may also help reduce flares or make them less severe.

But the bottom line is that eliminating stress won’t cure AD. Plus, let’s be real. It’s impossible to completely nix all stress from life. #AmIRight?

AD can definitely be a B-word for the skin’s protective barrier. The characteristic dry skin of AD, plus any injury from scratching, can make it easier for bacteria and viruses to enter and cause trouble in the form of an infection. Your dermatologist can help you find ways to protect and care for your skin to keep it as healthy as possible.

You’re totally on top of atopic dermatitis!

You nailed this quiz! You’ve scratched more than just the surface of what you need to know about AD. But while it’s great to arm yourself with info about a chronic condition that you live with (or affects someone you care about), don’t forget to take a step back when you need to. The National Eczema Association has resources to help people with AD boost their well-being, as well as their skin health.

You’re an AD buff in the making.

You’re learning your stuff. You may have missed a couple of answers, but you clearly have the basics about AD down, and you’re actively seeking out more info — kudos on that! Living with a chronic condition is complicated, so take things at your own pace. Check out the National Eczema Association’s AD page to add to your knowledge. And when you’re ready to learn more, read up on triggers and eczema stats.

Time to boost your knowledge about AD.

OK, so you didn’t do so hot on the quiz, but no worries. Just by giving it a go, you already learned a few things about AD. Want to learn more? Head on over to the National Eczema Association’s AD page to boost your knowledge. The eczema FAQ page is also a great place to start. With a little research at your own pace, you’ll become an armchair AD expert in no time.