Neurodermatitis may be a skin condition that starts with an itchy patch of skin. Scratching makes it even itchier. This itch-scratch cycle causes the affected skin to become thick and leathery. You may develop several itchy spots, typically on the neck, wrists, forearms, legs or anal region.
Neurodermatitis — also referred to as lichen simplex chronicus — isn't life-threatening or contagious. But the itching are often so intense or recurrent that it disrupts your sleep, sexual function and quality of life.
Breaking the itch-scratch cycle of neurodermatitis is challenging, and neurodermatitis is typically a lifelong condition. Treatment success depends on resisting the urge to rub or scratch the affected areas. Over-the-counter or prescription medications may help ease the itching. You'll also need to identify and eliminate factors that may be aggravating the problem.
Signs and symptoms of neurodermatitis include:
Ø An itchy skin patch or patches
Ø Leathery or scaly texture on the affected areas
Ø A raised, rough patch or patches that are red or darker than the rest of your skin
The condition involves areas that can be reached for scratching — the head, neck, wrists, forearms, ankles, vulva, scrotum or anus. The itchiness, which may be intense, may come and go or be n"art-13">You may cut out of habit and while sleeping.
When to see a doctor
See your doctor if:
Ø You catch yourself repeatedly scratching the same patch of skin
Ø The itch prevents you from sleeping or focusing on your daily routines
Ø Your skin becomes painful or looks infected and you have a fever
The cause of neurodermatitis is unknown. The persistent rubbing and scratching that characterize the condition may begin with something that simply irritates the skin, like tight clothing or a bug bite. As you rub or scratch the world , it gets itchier. The more you scratch, the more it itches.
In some cases, neurodermatitis is related to chronic skin conditions — like dry skin, eczema or psoriasis. Stress and anxiety can trigger itching too.
Certain factors may affect your risk of neurodermatitis, including:
Ø Your sex and age. Women are more likely to develop neurodermatitis than are men. The condition is commonest between ages 30 and 50.
Ø Other skin conditions. People with a private or case history of dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis or similar skin conditions are more likely to develop neurodermatitis.
Ø Anxiety disorders. Anxiety and stress can trigger the itch of neurodermatitis.
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