Is Eczema a Neurodermatitis?

Neurodermatitis is a condition of the skin characterized by intense itchiness and skin lesions caused by chronic scratching. It is a type of eczema which is different from its other types. It is also known as lichen-simplex chronicus. It usually develops as itchy patches on the neck, forearm, wrist, thigh, genitals or ankles. The skin appears patchy and leathery in texture on the affected areas. The exact cause is not known. It is diagnosed by skin biopsy. It can be managed by local ointments or cessation of scratching.

Is Eczema a Neurodermatitis?

Is Eczema a Neurodermatitis?

Yes, neurodermatitis is a type of eczema. It is a skin disease that is marked by long-lasting itching and irresistible scratching. The body parts that are affected by this condition are the neck, arm, hands, genitals, thigh, and ankles. This condition is also called lichen simplex chronicus. An earlier history of eczema may trigger neurodermatitis.

The involved skin is otherwise healthy, constant and chronic itching makes you scratch continuously. Itching is so intense that it can be nonstop. It can even disturb your sleep and you can go on scratching even in sleep. The long scratching deteriorates the quality of the skin and makes it scaly. This happens in patches. The skin is red, thick, scaly, patchy, and leathery in texture. It can also bleed and get infected if the scratching continuous. The more you scratch; more you will feel itchiness as it constantly irritates the skin. The exact cause of neurodermatitis is not known.

Causes of neurodermatitis may be-

Anxiety, stress, and depression can trigger itching and scratching that can cause neurodermatitis.

Skin ailments such as dry skin, eczema, psoriasis etc. can affect the health of the skin and one can develop neurodermatitis. Individuals with a positive family history are more likely to develop this condition.

Symptoms of neurodermatitis are as following:

  • Itching may increase with stress.
  • You may itch in a specific patch of the skin from a long time.
  • You may feel itching during sleep that may disturb your sleep.
  • The texture of the skin is leathery, thick, and scaly with boundaries on the affected areas of skin.
  • The areas of skin that are affected by neurodermatitis are head, neck, wrist, forearm, ankle, vulva, scrotum or anus.
  • Affected skin is raised, rough, red or darker than the rest of the skin.
  • The affected areas can be painful and can bleed.

Diagnosis of Neurodermatitis

Neurodermatitis is diagnosed by evaluation of your medical history such as onset, duration, character, course, and quality of your skin. Physician may ask you to have a biopsy of the affected skin to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment for Neurodermatitis

The following are the ways; your physician may adopt to manage your neurodermatitis-

Counseling for Neurodermatitis – Counseling, stress management, and behavior modification may be required in certain cases. It is not a progressing disease so if you control scratching, your condition will improve.

Local Application- A lotion or cream containing corticosteroid is given to applying on the affected area to manage irritation and itching. Ointments that contain salicylic acid are advised to apply on the patches of thick skin to peel them off, soaps or lotions containing coal tar that can promote healing of the skin. He may ask you to moisturize, cover or protect the affected area with or without ointments, lotions or creams.

Medicines- Your physician will prescribe you medicines that you have to consume. These include Antihistamines and other oral medicines to control the pain, irritation, and itchiness of the skin. You may need steroid injections directly in the skin to manage them. Some patients’ may require antidepressants and tranquilizers to end the emotional cause behind the disease.


Neurodermatitis is a chronic condition of the skin that can cause intense itching and scratching. The affected skin is patchy, thick and leathery with marked boundaries. Prior history of eczema in individual or family can trigger neurodermatitis.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 28, 2018

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