Criteria for Diagnosis

The American Academy of Dermatology Diagnostic Criteria for AD include essential features (must be present for diagnosis)1:

  • Pruritus
  • Eczema (acute, subacute, chronic)
    • Chronic or relapsing history
    • Typical morphology and age-specific patterns including:
      • Facial, neck, and extensor involvement in infants and children
      • Current or previous flexural lesions in any age group
      • Sparing of the groin and axillary regions
  • Important features seen in most cases, adding support to the diagnosis:
    • Early age of onset
    • Atopy
      • Personal and/or family history
      • IgE reactivity
    • Xerosis
  • Associated features – These clinical associations help to suggest the diagnosis of AD but are too nonspecific to be used for defining or detecting AD for research and epidemiologic studies:
    • Atypical vascular responses (eg, facial pallor, white dermographism, delayed blanch response)
    • Keratosis pilaris / pityriasis alba / hyperlinear palms / ichthyosis
    • Ocular / periorbital changes
    • Other regional findings (eg, perioral changes / periauricular lesions)
    • Perifollicular accentuation / lichenification / prurigo lesions


1Eichenfield LF, Tom WL, Chamlin SL, et al. Guidelines of care for the management of atopic dermatitis: section 1. Diagnosis and assessment of atopic dermatitis. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014;70(2):338-351. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2013.10.010