Neurodermatitis, also known as Lichen Simplex Chronicus, is a medical condition which begins with a patch of itchy skin. However, scratching the area increases the itching and the patient eventually starts scratching subconsciously out of habit. This whole process of chronic scratching results in the skin becoming thick and leathery in appearance. Although neurodermatitis is not a fatal condition, it is quite difficult to break the itch-scratch cycle which it has.
Treatment involves identifying and removing the triggering factors. Over-the-counter and prescription topical medicines help in alleviating the symptoms of neurodermatitis.
Causes of Neurodermatitis or Lichen Simplex Chronicus
The exact cause behind neurodermatitis is not clear. There are some trigger factors, such as a bug bite or tight or rough clothing which rubs against the skin and causes irritation and itching of the skin. As the patient scratches and rubs the affected skin, the itching increases more and more. Other triggering factors include stress. Sometimes, neurodermatitis can also be associated with other skin conditions like dry skin, psoriasis or eczema.
Risk Factors for Neurodermatitis or Lichen Simplex Chronicus
- Women are at a higher risk for developing neurodermatitis than men; especially those who are aged between 30 and 50.
- Having other skin problems like eczema, psoriasis etc. increases the likelihood to develop neurodermatitis.
- Stress and anxiety triggers and aggravates neurodermatitis.
Investigations for Neurodermatitis or Lichen Simplex Chronicus
Physical examination and medical history is usually sufficient for diagnosis. Other tests, like skin biopsy, can be done to rule out other skin conditions and causes.
Treatment for Neurodermatitis or Lichen Simplex Chronicus
To break this obstinate itch-scratch cycle, the patient has to quit scratching the affected region. To do this, the doctor may prescribe:
- Medications such as corticosteroids, antihistamines, anti-anxiety drugs to prevent and alleviate itching.
- Antibiotics are prescribed if the patient develops bacterial infection in the affected skin region. Topical or oral antibiotics are prescribed.
- Counseling or therapy is beneficial for those patients where stress and anxiety trigger the itching. Therapy helps them to calm down and relax more.
- Other things which help in relaxing are yoga, meditation etc… which are highly beneficial in calming oneself and in turn helps with alleviating the itching.
Home Remedies & Prevention of Neurodermatitis or Lichen Simplex Chronicus
- Covering the affected regions with dressings or bandages help in protecting the skin, as well as preventing the scratching; particularly if the patient tends to scratch during his/her sleep.
- Always trim your nails so as to lessen the skin damage from compulsive scratching.
- OTC anti-itch lotions or creams can be applied to the affected region.
- Cool baths with added baking soda, colloidal oatmeal/uncooked oatmeal also helps with the itching.
- Always use mild soaps/cleansers which do not contain perfumes, dyes etc. Also, rinse the soap thoroughly from the body after the bath and apply unscented moisturizer to lubricate and protect the skin.
- Avoiding tight and rough clothing and try wearing smooth-textured cotton clothes which will help in preventing skin irritation.
- Stress doesn’t get us anywhere, so try to avoid anxiety and stress in all aspects of your life, as these are major triggering factors of itching.