Understanding Neurodermatitis Eczema
Neurodermatitis Eczema, also known as Lichen Simplex Chronicus is an eczema that causes an excessive bout of itchiness that no amount of scratching will be able to bring relief. This severe and very common type of eczema develops due to the nerve endings of the skin becoming irritated thus triggering a severe itch-scratch cycle.
The symptoms are characterized by extremely irritated skin, usually felt when the person is at rest or during in a relaxed state. Scratching, rubbing or even touching the skin causes the itchiness to escalate and in some cases, it becomes so severe that sleep is often disrupted.
Neurodermatitis affects the lower limbs, particularly the ankles, the neck and the back area, as well as the forearms, the wrists and even the genitals. It often follows an occurrence of Atopic eczema or a severe case of Contact dermatitis or Psoriasis, and usually attacks the areas that were previously affected.
With constant scratching, tiny yet distinct flaky, red plaque is known to develop accompanied by visible scratch marks. The affected skin turns pink, red or reddish brown in color, and as it thickens or lichinifies, it turns a greyish blue. Thickening of the skin due to the piling up of skin cells causes cutaneous horns.
Scratching can cause an uncomfortable burning sensation with an increased risk to infection. Open sores, honey-colored crusts and cracks appearing on the skin are some of the common signs of infection.
The exact cause of Neurodermatitis is still a mystery and researchers have found that some people exposure to certain triggers increase the risk of Neurodermatitis developing.
Individuals who have a previous history of allergic or irritant contact dermatitis and/or psoriasis are known to be more susceptible and more likely to develop this type of skin disorder. Asthma and hay fever sufferers may also be at a greater risk. Neurodermatitis affects more females than males and begins upon reaching middle or later part of adulthood.
A number of medical researches show that the known triggers mentioned below cause irritation to the nerves of those individuals susceptible to the condition, which sets off a severe itch and scratch cycle:
- Dry skin
- Tight clothing and synthetic fabrics or wool
- Insect bites
- Poor blood flow
- Direct contact with allergens and irritants, such as irritant chemicals found in hair dyes can cause neurodermatitis to develop.
- Excessive anxiety or emotional distress
- Scars, especially keloid-type scars
For treatment of Neurodermatitis to be successful, the affected person needs to control and stop repeated rubbing and scratching thus making the treatment extremely challenging. The condition will remain until effective treatment is given but can recur upon exposure or contact to known causes.
Medical finding of Neurodermatitis generally includes a visual examination, a biopsy of the skin to eliminate other skin infections along with patch testing to determine the substances causing the conditions.
In the treatment and management of Neurodermatitis, the most important objective is to put an end to the irritation. In fact, the patient must stop touching, rubbing or scratching of the affected area. To assist the patient, the dermatologist may recommend the administration or application of the following:
- Topical corticosteroids to help in reducing inflammation and itchiness and must be applied as directed.
- Topical antibiotic is applied to broken skin to help treat the infection as well as to prevent recurrence.
- Oral antibiotics help clear and treat any existing infection of the skin.
- Topical keratolytics or formulations that include urea, lactic acid or salicylic acid in order to help reduce the thickening of the skin.
- Sedatives or tranquillizers may be administered to aid in soothing anxiety and facilitate better sleep.
- Applying ice or cold compresses to the itchy areas. Occlusion dressings can be used to effectively enhance the strength of the administered treatment and tamp down the need to constantly scratch.
- Avoid or limit contact with irritants that cause itching, e.g. tight fitting clothes or synthetic socks or hoses. Reduce stressful situations and drastic changes in temperatures.
- When bathing or showering, keep water at a warm temperature and bath for as short a period as possible. Ensure that fingernails are kept short.
As challenging as the condition of Neurodermatitis is, it can be controlled and managed with patience and time, and of course the right treatment.