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Getting to know the severity of your atopic dermatitis

Getting a sense of how severe your atopic dermatitis is can be helpful for doctors. But it can be a difficult thing to judge on your own. Don't worry though – that's where your dermatologist can help.

How is it measured?

Dermatologists split AD into three categories of severity: mild, moderate, and severe.

The severity of your AD can be measured in different ways, including how widespread your lesions are, where they're located, how intense your itch is, and how much the condition impacts your quality of life.1,2

Understanding AD

AD is a chronic, relapsing condition, which means that your symptoms will usually fluctuate over time.3

As your symptoms change, so can your treatment needs. That's why it's important to keep an eye on your symptoms and discuss any changes with your dermatologist.

Woman with atopic dermatitis sat in a blue chair with a severe eczema flare up

Talking severity in appointments

It's entirely possible that you won't be having a flare-up during your doctor's appointment. In fact, you might be feeling okay. But it's important to give your dermatologist a true picture of your symptoms. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Where do your AD rashes or lesions appear? How much of your skin do they cover?
  • How intense is your itch? When do you experience it the most?
  • How do your symptoms impact your life?
  • Do they affect your sleep? Social life? Productivity? Relationships?

Answering these will help your doctor understand the real severity of your AD, which can help ensure they're managing your condition in the most effective way.

What you can do now

Take pictures of your flares when they happen. That way, you can show your doctor exactly what your symptoms look like in your next appointment.

Use the Atopic Dermatitis Control Tool. This is a recognised way for dermatologists to assess how controlled or uncontrolled your AD is. Once you've completed the test (six questions), you can show the result to your dermatologist, who may use it to guide their next treatment decision.

woman with atopic dermatitis taking a picutre with her phone of her severe eczema flare up symptoms

However severe your AD is, just remember - Speak to a dermatologist about your AD severity and how you can manage it for the long term.



Lets take an in-depth look at the signs and symptoms of AD. Learn how they appear on adults and children, and on different skin tones.

Find out more

AD Glossary


Feeling lost in a sea of terminology? Our glossary can help you feel confident when you discuss your AD.

Expand your vocabulary


  1. Boguniewicz M et al. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract 2017; 5: 1519–1531.

  2. Motswaledi MH. S Afr Fam Pract 2012; 54(5): 411—412.

  3. Abuabara K et al. Dermatol Clin 2017; 35(3): 291–297.