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Neurodermatitis: Severely Itchy Skin

By HERWriter
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Ever have a spot that severely itches or see someone constantly scratching a thickened patch of skin? Neurodermatitis is form of eczema or atopic dermatitis where nerve endings in the skin become overly irritated leading to a cycle of excessive scratching and itching. Red patches appear on the skin covered with white scratch lines from the person’s attempts to relieve the intense itching.

Neurodermatis, also called lichen simplex chronicus, typically starts as a roughened patch on the wrist, neck, forearm, thigh or ankle. Excessive scratched causes the area to develop sore red spots and the skin can become overly thickened. Neurodermatitis can also affect the genital area involving the vulva or scrotum. Diagnosis of neurodermatis can be made through a skin patch test to determine if there is some type contact allergy causing the intense itching or by a skin biopsy to rule out a skin infection.

Who is at risk?

People who already have allergies, or other skin conditions such as psoriasis or other forms of dermatitis are more susceptible to neurodermatitis. Women, especially those between the ages of 30 to 50, are more likely to develop it.

In addition, certain circumstances or exposures to skin irritants can make someone more at risk for developing neurodermatitis. Tight clothing, dry skin, exposure to excess heat, insect bites or increased emotional stress may contribute. People have developed neurodermatitis after exposure to hair dye with the additive P-phenylenediamine (PPD), which has been found to cause allergies in some. See my article "Allergic to Hair Dye?" at www.empowher.com/allergic-contact-dermatitis/content/allergic-hair-dye


Treatment for neurodermatitis centers on the use of topical creams. Topical steroids reduce inflammation and topical keratolytics help reduce the thickening of the skin. Oral or topical antibiotics may be given to prevent infection from the excessive scratching. Antihistamines, both oral and topical, can reduce itching and a prescription sedative medication may help improve sleep at night.

Other alternative treatments are also an option.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.