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Definition

It is a type of a skin disorder which is characterized by scratching and chronic itching. It is characterized by pruritic, dry, scaling, hyperpigmented, lichenified plaques in irregular, oval, or angular shapes. It generally affects adults, and may result in one, or many itchy patches. It can occur at any age. It occurs both male and female as well as in children but it is more common in adults. It is common among Asians and Native Americans, and usually develops in people who are between the ages of 20 and 50.  It occurs in 4-5 out of every thousand people.

Skin usually repairs itself quickly; however, in the case of lichen simplex chronicus, healing skin causes more itching and more scratching causes a thickening of the skin (lichen). The small skin patches are usually 1-10 in diameter.

Causes

The exact cause of neurodermatitis isn't known. Sometimes neurodermatitis begins with something that simply rubs or irritates the skin, such as tight clothing or a bug bite. People with lichen simplex chronicus have skin that is dry and easily irritated by soap, detergents, and rough wool clothing. Hot and cold weather often aggravates lichen simplex chronicus.

Symptoms

The primary symptom of neurodermatitis is itchy skin which is often on the neck, wrist, forearm, thigh or ankle. Sometimes neurodermatitis affects genital areas, such as the vulva or scrotum. Commonly located on the ankle, wrist, neck, rectum/anal area, forearms, thighs, lower leg, back of the knee, inner elbow

Treatment

Treatment of the itching is necessary to stop the scratching and resulting skin damage. There are a number of ways to stop itching. Perhaps the most important is to cut fingernails very short. Ice can be a good treatment for the relief of scratching. Heat and fuzzy clothing worsen itching; cold and smooth clothing pacify it. If the itching is persistent, then it is necessary to dressings to the affected areas.

Vaseline and cortisone compounds are the best medicines for controlling lichen simple chronicus. If it affects the large areas of the body then it will be necessary to treated with strong cortisone preparations and also require periodic check ups.

Topical cortisone is also available without a prescription. Some preparations also contain antihistamines, which penetrate intact skin poorly. All these medicines work better under occlusion, which means putting a waterproof barrier like a rubber glove or plastic wrap over them. For broken skin, topical antibiotics like bacitracin help prevent infection.

Oral antihistamines that are sedating may be of benefit at bedtime. Secondary infection may be seen and topical or sometimes oral antibiotics are required. The use of Doxepin cream or Capsaicin cream can sometimes help reduce itching.

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