- By sahlhealth
- May 18, 2021
- 44 views
Neurodermatitis is a skin condition that starts with an itchy patch of skin. Scratching makes it even itchier. This itch-scratch cycle causes the affected skin to become thick and leathery. You may develop several itchy spots, typically on the neck, wrists, forearms, legs or anal region.
Neurodermatitis — also known as lichen simplex chronicus — is not life-threatening or contagious. But the itching can be so intense or recurrent that it disrupts your sleep, sexual function and quality of life.
Breaking the itch-scratch cycle of neurodermatitis is challenging, and neurodermatitis is usually a lifelong condition. Treatment success depends on resisting the urge to rub or scratch the affected areas. Over-the-counter or prescription medications may help ease the itching. You'll also need to identify and eliminate factors that may be aggravating the problem.
Signs and symptoms of neurodermatitis include:
An itchy skin patch or patches
The leathery or scaly texture on the affected areas
A raised, rough patch or patches that are red or darker than the rest of your skin
The condition involves areas that can be reached for scratching — the head, neck, wrists, forearms, ankles, vulva, scrotum or anus. The itchiness, which can be intense, may come and go or be nonstop. You may scratch out of habit and while sleeping.
Treatment is aimed at controlling the itching, preventing scratching and addressing underlying causes.
Anti-itch medicated creams. If over-the-counter corticosteroid cream isn't helping, your doctor may prescribe a stronger corticosteroid or a nonsteroidal anti-itch product. A calcineurin inhibitor (tacrolimus) ointment may help if the vulva is involved.
Corticosteroid injections. Your doctor may inject corticosteroids directly into the affected skin to help it heal.
Medicine to ease itching. Prescription antihistamines help relieve itching in many people with neurodermatitis. Some of these drugs may cause drowsiness and help with alleviating scratching while you sleep.
Anti-anxiety drugs. Because anxiety and stress can trigger neurodermatitis, anti-anxiety drugs may help prevent the itchiness.
Medicated patches. For stubborn itching, your doctor may suggest topical lidocaine 5 percent or capsaicin 8 percent patches.
Light therapy. Exposing the affected skin to particular types of light is sometimes helpful.
Psychotherapy. Talking with a counselor can help you learn how your emotions and behaviors can fuel — or prevent — itching and scratching.
If your itching persists despite treatment, your doctor may suggest a nontraditional approach. For example, in small studies, some people whose symptoms didn't improve with corticosteroid use did report success with the following treatments.
OnabotulinumtoxinA (Botox) injection. This technique may reduce itching and clear up rough skin patches.
An oral drug to ease the compulsion to pick and scratch. An oral drug called N-acetylcysteine has been shown in a small study to help some people with picking and scratching disorders and may be of help to people with neurodermatitis.