Neurodermatitis

1 What is Neurodermatitis?

Neurodermatitis, also known as lichen simplex chronicus. is a condition in which a patch or patches of skin become itchy. Stratching these area makes them itchier. 

Continuous scratching can cause the skin to become thick and leathery. Spots can also develop inj these areas. This condition is not life-threatening or contagious.

 The itching can become s intense that it affects sleep, sexual function and quality of life. Breaking the itch-scratch cycle can be challenging. 

Treatment is aimed at reucing the urge to rub or  scratch the affected skin. Over-the-couner medicatuons can relieve itching. 

Knowning factors which aggrevate this skin ondition is helpful since it can help patients to prevent or aggrevate symptoms of neurodermatitis.

2 Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of neurodermatitis include:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

  • An itchy  skin patch or patches
  • Leathery or scaly texture on the affected area
  • A raised, rough patch or patches that are red or darker than the rest of the skin

This condition usually affects the head, neck, wrist, forearm, ankle, vulva , scrotum or anus- these areas can be easily reached for scratching.

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3 Causes

The exact cause of neurodermatitis is not known. Simple things that may rub or irritate the skin like tight clothing or a bug bite can trigger symptoms. 

Scratching the itchy area only makes it itchier. Stress and anxiety can also trigger itching. Neurodermatitis has bren linked to other skin disorders like eczema and psoriasis.

4 Making a Diagnosis

The diagnosis of neurodermatitis is made by examining the skin and check if there is any itching and scratching. A skin biopsy can also be taken to rule out other conditions.

5 Treatment

The aim of treating neurodermatitis is to control itching, prevent scratching and treat the underlying causes.                                 

Medications that are given include drugs that reduce inflammation and drugs that can control stress. Anti-inflamatory drugs include corticosteroids which may be used as creams or injections. 

Drugs which can help to relieve itching include antihistamines like citirizin. Stress can cause or aggrevate the symptoms of neurodermatitis. 

It is for this reason that doctors prescribe anti-stress drugs to patients in which stress plays a major role in the development of neurodermatitis.                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Other therapies include light therapy and psychotherapy.                                                                                                                                     

Two new therapies have emerged in rescent years, they include botulinum toxin (Botox) injection and applying apirin solution to the skin. 

Further investigations are required to confirm if these treatments are effective.

6 Lifestyle and Coping

Lifestyle modifications are necessary in order to cope with neurodermatitis.

The following can help relieve symptoms of neurodermatitis:                                            

  • Avoiding rubbing and scratching                                                                                                                
  • Applying cool or wet compresses to the skin                                                                                                       
  • Using over-the -counter medications like hydrocortisone to relieve itching                                
  • Covering the affected area with bandages or dressing to protect  the skin and prevent scratching
  • Keeping the nails short to decrease the damage to the skin when it is scratched                                       
  • Taking warm bths and keeping the skin moist  by using soaps without dyes or perfumes and unscented moisturizers to the skin.
  • Avoiding factors that may triger neutrodermatitis

7 Risks and Complications

There are several risks and complications associated with neurodermatitis.

Risk factors for neurodermatitis include the following:                                                                              

  • Being between 30 and 50
  • Being a woman
  • Having a history of  other skin conditions like dermatitis, eczema or  psoriasis
  • Anxiety disorders

Complications of neurodermatitis occur due to persistent scratching. They include:                            

  • Bacterial skin infection
  • Permanent scars
  • Changes in skin color
  • Trouble sleeping
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