Neurodermatitis is a vague non specific term used to describe itchiness and resulting dermatitis brought about by emotional causes.
There are two basic forms of neurodermatitis:
1. lichen simplex chronicus
2. disseminated dermatitis
Lichen Simplex Chronicus
The term lichen refers to any of the various popular skin diseases in which the lesions are typically small, firm and close together. This form of neurodermatitis is commonly known as Lichen Simplex and is a localised condition. It results in itchy skin that often leads sufferers into the scratch itch cycle. Severe itching leads to thick, dry and rough skin that is red and inflamed and often weeps.
This condition affects women more often than men. The condition is usually most prevalent between the ages of 20 – 50 years. It can often become worse in Summer and returns to a mild case in winter. The condition is exacerbated by stress and most common in people who are tense and obsessive by nature.
The areas most commonly affected by Lichen Simplex include the neck, wrist, elbow, ankle, knee, sacrum & coccyx.
Disseminated meaning scattered or distributed over a large area. This form of neurodermatitis, therefore often affects the entire body or much of it. It is also known as atopic dermatitis or atopic eczema.
A genetic predisposition to allergies due to hereditary factors will cause the condition. Outbreaks of skin inflammation and itchiness can be triggered by many environmental or emotional factors.
The sufferer typically experiences intense itching which leads too inflammation, pustules, scabbing, scaling, weeping and thickening of the skin.
Both localised and systemic neurodermatitis often require oral antihistamines and sedatives to control the itching. Topical steroids have long been the preferred treatment to control the inflammation and redness. A modern trend towards natural remedies have seen many people finding natural emollients and creams.
However, the condition will not improve until the scratch itch cycle has been broken. Counseling and stress management, along with behaviour modification, may also be required.
Both Lichen Simplex and Disseminated Dermatitis tend to be chronic conditions with frequent relapses. All though these are generally not serious conditions, they can be difficult to treat and it may take weeks or months for the skin to lose it’s sensitivity. Successful treatment; identifying and removing factors that many be aggravating the problem.