Best Exercises/Activities For Neurodermatitis

Neurodermatitis or lichen simplex chronicus is a skin disorder that results in skin thickening, scaling and lichenification due to repetitive scratching and rubbing of the affected area. Neurodermatitis is a result of a sense of pruritus in a specific part of the skin that may or may not be related to an underlying pathology, which leads to mechanical trauma of the skin. The commonly affected areas are the ones that are accessible to itching. The scratching provoked by pruritus leads to the manifestation of a lesion. It affects about 12% of the adult population with most individuals in their 30-50’s. Neurodermatitis is more prevalent in females than in males and a type of neurodermatitis, lichen nuchae that occur on the nape of the neck are exclusively seen in women.(1)

Best Exercises/Activities For Neurodermatitis

Neurodermatitis itch is worse when the patient is still or quiet; therefore, it affects them when they are sleeping or inactive. Itching is reduced or non-existent when the patient is active. Therefore, apart from educating the patient to avoid the urge to scratch, and prevent extreme temperatures and humidity, psychic stress, exposure to a previous allergen or skin irritant, patients may also be directed towards staying active and engaging in activities that distract them from itching.(1)

Staying active and engaging in activities that interest individuals such as walking, dancing, riding, running, bicycling, swimming, yoga, Pilates, tai chi, and gardening are some of the activities people can engage in to distract oneself from pruritus. Since water is lost while exercising, it is always important to drink water and stay hydrated when engaging in exercises. It is also very important to consider the right kind of clothes when exercising as tight and synthetic clothes may precipitate neurodermatitis.

Therefore, light, cotton and breathable fabrics are best that do not cause skin irritation during exercise.(2)

Swimming is a great exercise as people do not have to worry about sweating and triggering neurodermatitis. However, some may be concerned about chlorine as a potential skin irritant. Chlorine may act as an irritant for some people and if it aggravates the skin condition then it is best to stay away from chlorinated water and swim in natural water bodies such as lakes, rivers or oceans. However, if chlorinated water does not act as an irritant then it can prove to have a positive effect as a bleach bath. However, it is advised to apply emollient before and after swimming as well as take a shower after swimming.(2)

Exercise is not only is beneficial for the body but also helps in keeping anxiety and depression at bay, which are the key driving factors for neurodermatitis. Therefore, exercise is a very effective tool to reduce stress and help in improving mood. A person can engage in any kind of exercise as long as the exercise is suitable for them and helps them stay healthy and stress-free.(2)

Although the exact cause of neurodermatitis is unknown, it is very common in people with eczema (atopic dermatitis, atopic diathesis). Emotional stress also plays a key role in initiating neurodermatitis and psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder are frequently found in the patients of neurodermatitis. Insect bites, herpes zoster, xerosis, keloidalis nuchae, venous insufficiency, and asteatotic eczema are also common triggers for neurodermatitis. The extent and severity of neurodermatitis are possibly related to the interplay of primary lesions, psychiatric factors and the intensity of pruritus.(1)

The most common areas to be affected by neurodermatitis are the scalp, nape of the neck, elbows, extensor forearms, upper thighs, knees, lower legs, ankles, vulva, and scrotum. The skin is presented with inflamed, scaly, well-demarcated, firm, rough, lichenified plaques that exaggerate the skin lines. The affected skin may also show skin changes, such as hyperpigmentation. Excessive scratching and rubbing may also lead to erosions and ulcerations that may even get infected. Neurodermatitis also leads to the poor sleep cycle, sexual dysfunction and reduced quality of life.(1)

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