What is Neurodermatitis?

Neurodermatitis is a type of skin condition that usually starts with patches of itchy skin that is made itchier if it is scratched.  Scratching cause it to become leathery and thick.

It normally appears on the ankle or thigh, or on the wrist, neck, or forearm but can also be present in anal and genital areas.  It is also called lichen simplex chronicus.  It isn’t contagious but it can be very intense and cause a disruption of sleep and life quality. Sometimes the itch is continuous while in other cases, the itch may come and go.

Neurodermatitis may be a symptom of an underlying condition such as eczema and psoriasis but, in most cases,  it only causes one or two itchy patches instead of being spread in several areas.

Neurodermatitis may be linked to level of stress hormone in the system that might trigger the symptoms or worsen them.

What are the Symptoms of Neurodermatitis?

The most common symptoms of neurodermatitis are patches of itchy skin, a leather-like texture that appears as thick skin, and raised patches of skin that are reddish in tone or are darker than your normal skin tone. The itchiness might be non-stop or it may come and go.  Some people scratch in their sleep.

Neurodermatitis Causes

There are no known causes of neurodermatitis. However, researchers have identified some risk factors and are trying to learn more on how they cause neurodermatitis. Anxiety and stress can be triggering factors.

  • Neurodermatitis mostly manifests when a person starts scratching the skin, and it begins with something that irritates or rubs the skin, such as a bug bite or tight clothing. As the individual begins scratching, the itching worsens. Itching goes on till the skin becomes leathery.
  • Neurodermatitis is most common in people between the ages of 30-50. It affects females more than males and patients with family or personal history of psoriasis, eczema or any other similar condition are at risk of getting it.
  • Some other factors that play a role in causing neurodermatitis include environmental factors, genetic predisposition, and inflammation of the skin. Defective functioning of the skin leads to unusual evaporation of water from the surface, leading to dryness. Moreover, the skin becomes permeable to allergens or environmental substances which trigger inflammatory reactions.

How is Neurodermatitis Treated?

There are two ways that neurodermatitis can be treated.  One form of treatment involves controlling the itching. The other form of treatment involves treating whatever the underlying cause might be.

Corticosteroid injects might be injected into the skin to help it heal. Anti-inflammatory medicated creams (either prescribed or over-the-counter) can help control the itch. Prescription antihistamines may also help minimize itching.  Light therapy has also been helpful in some case.

Sometimes neurodermatitis is triggered by anxiety. If this is the case, anti-anxiety medications may be prescribed. Psychotherapy can also be helpful if neurodermatitis is related to a mental health issue.

Studies are being conducted on Botox injections and Aspirin solutions. At this time more research is needed but some studies have reported these treatments as being successful.

Neurodermatitis Prevention

There are a number of preventative measures for neurodermatitis:

  • Since itching worsens while sweating, avoiding too many bed covers during sleep time, and wearing appropriate clothing during the day, will go a long way in preventing an episode of neurodermatitis.
  • The innermost clothing layer with the seams should be worn outwards to avert them from irritating the skin.
  • Use small amounts of vinegar in place of fabric softener.
  • Relaxation techniques such as yoga, autogenic training and progressive muscle relaxation help patients deal with psychological stresses.
  • Skin cleansing should be done only with pure water and reduced frequency as using skin care products such as shampoo or soap triggers inflammation of the skin.
  • Adaptation to an emulsifier free skin care routine with natural fat substances kindles metabolism as well as the rejuvenation of the skin barrier layers in the long run.