Compliance problems are a common cause of apparent treatment failure in atopic eczema. The results of a survey of parents with children attending dermatologists for atopic eczema is presented. Major reasons for failure to comply include a poor understanding of the chronic nature of the disease, a fear of topical corticosteroids, the belief that atopic eczema is due to an allergy, and the time and cost of treatment. The explanation that treatment is a control and not a cure is also important in the parent's perception of treatment results. Suggested solutions to some of these points are discussed.