What Causes Neurodermatitis?

Neurodermatitis is a chronic skin disorder characterized by long-lasting itching and irresistible scratching of patching skin of neck, genitals, and extremities. It is also termed as lichen simplex chronicus. With constant scratching, itching increases further and the skin becomes thick and leathery. The exact cause is not known. The risk factors that can trigger neurodermatitis are skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, allergies and mental stress, nervousness or anxiety. It can be managed by anti-itch medicines, anti-depression drugs, and local corticosteroid ointments.

What Causes Neurodermatitis?

What Causes Neurodermatitis?

Neurodermatitis is a skin disease that is marked by intense itching and uncontrollable scratching. It occurs usually in neck, genitals, arm, hands, thighs, and ankles. Medically, doctors also call it lichen simplex chronicus. It affects women more than men between the ages of 20 to 50 years.

The involved skin is otherwise healthy and normal, but constant scratching and itching makes it thick and scaly. This disease is common in children as they cannot resist itching or scratch worsening the case. Scratching each time increases the itching. It might begin with tight clothing or an insect bite. Constant scratching and itching irritate the skin making it more thick and scaly and itchier.

Causes of Neurodermatitis Are As Following

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

Symptoms of Neurodermatitis Are As Following

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

Complications of Neurodermatitis

Constant itching because of neurodermatitis can create a wound on your skin that may cause bacterial infections in the skin or permanent scars or discoloration or change in the color of the skin.

Diagnosis of Neurodermatitis

Your physician can make the diagnosis of neurodermatitis by inquiring about the history of onset, duration, and course of the skin affection. You may order you a skin biopsy of skin lesions to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment for Neurodermatitis

The treatment for neurodermatitis aims to control the itch. Your physician will prescribe you following –

  • A lotion or corticosteroid is given for application on the affected area to manage irritation and itching
  • A medicine that can cause numbness in the affected area.
  • 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
  • Your physician may ask you to moisturize, cover or protect the affected area with or without ointments, lotions or creams.
  • 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 require antidepressants and tranquilizers to end the emotional cause behind the disease. 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.


Neurodermatitis is a benign skin condition that causes intense itching and scratching. The affected skin is patchy, thick and leathery with marked boundaries. Positive family or personal history of skin diseases and mental conditions such as anxiety, stress, depression, nervousness and other psychological disorders can cause neurodermatitis.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 26, 2019

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