Neurodermatitis is a skin condition that manifests as an itch-and scratch disorder, which in turn causes the skin to become thick and leathery. The change in the appearance of the skin is referred to as lichenification due to its close appearance to the lichen, which grows on trees and rocks. It is most common in individuals between the ages of 35 and 50 with women being more affected than men. Neurodermatitis, also known as lichen simplex chronicus rarely affects several areas at a time; instead, it can only be found in one or two areas. The most commonly affected areas include; the wrists and ankles, forearms, legs, neck, shoulders, and back, as well as genital areas such as the anal area, scrotum, and vulva.[1]

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Is Neurodermatitis A Serious Condition?/p>

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Is Neurodermatitis A Serious Condition?

Neurodermatitis is not a serious life-threatening condition, but then again, it can lead to a psychosocial burden and disruption in one's daily activities. Also, it is not contagious, so you do not need to worry about contracting the disease from or spreading it. The condition has been associated with depression, anxiety, and stress, which at times can worsen its symptoms. Adding to that, patients with neurodermatitis tend to have poor social skills and experience sleep disturbances and sexual dysfunction. As a result, all these factors contribute to lowering the quality of life in patients with neurodermatitis.

The itch-scratch cycle in neurodermatitis patients can be difficult to overcome, and the more one scratches, the worse the itching becomes. The condition can be managed using various tropical steroidal creams, and even medication, but they cannot prevent a recurrence. So, to reduce and prevent the itch-scratch cycle in patients with neurodermatitis, modification of a patient's non-adaptive behaviors and cognitive-behavioral therapy have been adopted, as they have better results.[2]

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Can Neurodermatitis Be Reversed?

Neurodermatitis (lichen simplex chronicus) can be a difficult condition to treat. Therefore, the main goals of treatment are usually to remove any triggering and exacerbating environmental factors, repair the barrier function of the skin, identify and treat any underlying dermatologic or systemic condition that could be worsening neurodermatitis.

Additionally, treatment is meant to disrupt the itch-scratch cycle characteristic of lichen simplex chronicus through a reduction in the degree of skin inflammation and control of nocturnal pruritus. Regardless of similarities in symptoms in different patients, treatment of neurodermatitis should be individualized and may include topical corticosteroid, emollients, and lifestyle modification as well as sedating antihistamine, to prevent scratching while sleeping. If scars have formed on the skin due to persistent scratching, then it will be difficult to get rid of the marks.

Lichen simplex chronicus is not a primary disease but rather the skin's response to chronic physical injury (trauma). The gradual thickening of the skin, caused by repetitive scratching and rubbing, known as lichenification can only be reversed if one does not scratch the affected areas and follows prescribed medication to manage the condition. Otherwise, the more you continue to scratch; your skin keeps thickening and changing in appearance.[3] [4]

Who Is At Risk For Neurodermatitis?

Neurodermatitis can occur in people of any age, race, and any gender, but it is more common in females than in males and appears more frequently in people between the ages of 40 and 50. Also, in some cases, some disorders increase the likelihood of one developing neurodermatitis. They include; eczema (atopic dermatitis), dry skin (xerosis), poor circulation in legs (venous insufficiency), as well as anxiety and stress. People with highly irritable skin, say from clothes or insect bites can also develop the condition, if the itch and scratch consistently.[4]

Conclusion

Neurodermatitis cannot be categorized as a serious condition since it is neither life-threatening nor is it contagious. Regardless, it can disrupt one’s quality of life since it interferes with one’s sexual functionality in cases where genital areas are affected, quality of sleep as well as one’s social aspect. The best way to manage neurodermatitis is by finding various approaches that will help ease and relieve the itching. Needless say, learning how to resist the urge of itching and scratching is the ultimate path to improving the condition.

References:  

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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: July 22, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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