BACKGROUND: The lack of standardized nomenclature for atopic dermatitis (AD) creates unnecessary confusion for patients, health care providers and researchers. It also negatively impacts accurate communication of research in the scientific literature. We sought to determine the most commonly used terms for AD. METHODS: A systematic review of the MEDLINE, EMBASE and LILACS (1945-2016) for the terms AD, atopic eczema (AE) and multiple other eczematous disorders. RESULTS: In MEDLINE, 33,060 were identified, of which 21,299 (64.4%) publications used the term "AD", 15,510 (46.9%) "eczema" and only 2,471 (7.5%) AE. Most of these publications used the term AD (82.0%) or eczema (70.8%) without additional nomenclature; only 1.2% used AE alone. Few publications used the terminology "childhood eczema", "flexural eczema", "infantile eczema", "atopic neurodermatitis" or "Besnier's prurigo" AD was rarely used until the late 1970s, after which it became the most commonly used of the 3 terms and continuously increased until 2015. AE decreased between 2008 and 2015. AD was the most commonly used term in studies across almost all publication types, languages, and journals. CONCLUSION: AD is the most commonly used term, and appears to be increasing in popularity. Given that eczema is a nonspecific term that describes the morphological appearance of several forms of dermatitis, we strongly suggest the use of a more specific term, atopic dermatitis, in publications, health care clinician training, and patient education. Support from researchers, reviewers and editors is key to success. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.