Neurodermatitis

Neurodermatitis is a condition caused by persistent, severe itching that causes a person to continually scratch and rub their skin for a long time. This causes the skin to thicken in that area. It is most often seen on the back and sides of the neck, wrists, and ankles. A cycle of itching-scratching usually occurs. The skin can become very irritated from scratching leading to bleeding, scaling, and crusting. Neurodermatitis is usually made worse by:

  • Drying or irritating chemicals.

  • Rough clothing.

  • Scratching.

CAUSES

Underlying causes may exist, such as pre-existing eczema. However, neurodermatitis is not usually due to any specific cause.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Limit showering to 3 times a week to prevent irritation. Washing your skin with soap and water removes natural oils. This allows small cracks to develop in the skin and the itching may start.

  • Avoid very hot water and harsh soaps.

  • Avoid clothing such as wool that irritates your skin.

  • Avoid scratching if possible.

TREATMENT

Treatment includes applying a moisturizer 5 to 6 times daily. Use this on affected areas right after showering to seal in moisture. Avoid moisturizers that are scented. These can dry your skin and make your itching worse. To help control itching, medications may be needed by prescription from a skin doctor (dermatologist). These medications include topical steroids (corticosteroids). Over-the-counter cortisone creams applied 3 to 4 times daily to affected areas can be helpful with the itching. Antibiotic medicine or oral cortisone medicine may be used for severe cases.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

Your condition worsens or is not better after 3 to 4 days of treatment.