The disease manifests itself with repeated skin inflammations and severe itching and is characterized by periods of exacerbation and remission (during which the skin appears normal).

The intense itching can cause secondary infections by bacteria or fungi, which try to invade the injured, through the scratching, skin.
Atopic dermatitis can manifest on any area of the body but some areas are more frequently infected than others.

In children atopic dermatitis usually manifests as a skin rash on the face before spreading to the hands and legs.
Older children and adults may initially observe red, sensitive skin areas behind the knees, on the elbows or the neck, on the wrist, the ankles and the hands. It also can infect the skin around the eyebrows and the eyes.

It manifests more often in cold countries and during early childhood. Only in a small percentage the disease manifest after puberty.