DESCRIBE-AD: A novel classification framework for atopic dermatitis

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2022 Sep;87(3):541-550. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2021.10.058. Epub 2021 Nov 10.


Background: Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic, inflammatory skin disease associated with heterogeneous morphology, distribution, symptoms, severity, extent, longitudinal courses, quality of life burden, comorbidities, and treatment responses. This heterogeneity contributes to challenges in diagnosis, the characterization of disease activity, and therapeutic stratification.

Objective: To develop a framework to standardize AD assessment.

Methods: We propose a novel framework to assess AD based on a literature review and clinical experience.

Results: DESCRIBE-AD is a framework that can effectively capture the clinical domains contributing to AD heterogeneity and includes both patient- and clinician-reported perspectives. DESCRIBE-AD includes assessments of Dermatitis morphology and phenotype, Evolution of disease, Symptom severity, Comorbid health disorders, Response to therapy, Intensity of lesions, Burden of disease, and Extent of lesions. Rather than placing the focus on any single, specific aspect of AD, DESCRIBE-AD allows for a comprehensive approach to the assessment and clinical management of AD.

Conclusions: DESCRIBE-AD is a novel framework that can be used to better describe the heterogeneity of AD and guide treatment decisions.

Keywords: atopic dermatitis; burden; eczema; heterogeneity; outcome; severity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Comorbidity
  • Dermatitis, Atopic* / drug therapy
  • Dermatitis, Atopic* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Skin / pathology