There are seven different kinds of eczema, and knowing what type you have can help determine what type of treatment is right for you. If you find yourself with smaller, incessantly itchy patches of skin that thicken over time, you might have a form of eczema known as neurodermatitis.
What Is Neurodermatitis? & What Does It Look Like?
Neurodermatitis, also referred to as lichen simplex chronicus, refers to a type of dry, patchy skin. It’s a condition that falls within the larger group of skin conditions known as eczema.
Neurodermatitis shows up as scaly, leathery skin. This process tends to happen over time, as scratching can worsen the condition by making skin drier and tougher than before.
Neurodermatitis tends to affect smaller patches of skin than some other types of eczema. Atopic dermatitis, for example, affects larger areas of skin because it’s caused by an immune response that triggers severe skin sensitivity to an outside factor.
Neurodermatitis most often surfaces on specific areas of the body, such as the neck, feet, ankles, wrists, hands, and groin area (including the anus, scrotum, or vulva). It doesn’t usually affect large areas, unlike other forms of eczema.
Neurodermatitis sticks to one or two smaller areas of the body where itching occurs frequently and is hard to ignore. Prolonged itching means these areas are usually thicker compared to other skin — and may seem scaly or discolored.
Symptoms of Neurodermatitis
Symptoms of neurodermatitis will include extreme itchiness and sensitivity. You may notice that the itchy parts of your skin are discolored and scaly. This is a result of the skin thickening to protect itself against prolonged scratching and irritation, but despite the thickening of skin, it won’t stop the itching.
Many people who suffer from neurodermatitis find that their lives are interrupted by the condition of their skin. The itchiness that accompanies this condition can be disruptive to your sleep and your general happiness. If you find that your quality of life is changing because of suspected neurodermatitis, it’s time to get in contact with your dermatologist to talk about your options.
Neurodermatitis Causes and Risk Factors
Neurodermatitis tends to affect women from the ages of 30–50. Scientists have hypothesized that neurodermatitis might be related to an underlying cause that triggers the initial itch — such as tight clothing, a bug bite, or other skin condition.
Those who suffer from other diseases such as atopic dermatitis, anxiety disorders, contact dermatitis, and psoriasis have a higher likelihood of experiencing neurodermatitis.
If you find yourself suffering from neurodermatitis, the best thing you can do is start taking steps to calm the itch, as well as get in contact with your doctor about a long-term treatment plan.
If you suspect you might be suffering from neurodermatitis, your first question is likely, “what are neurodermatitis treatments?”
Neurodermatitis treatments attempt to stop the need to scratch. This can be through a steroid, capsaicin cream, or another soothing agent like colloidal oatmeal that lessens the itchiness of the skin. The key to recovery is to stop the itch-scratch cycle. This allows the skin to begin the healing process without being derailed by itching.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, neurodermatitis rarely goes away on its own without treatment… so be sure to consult with your dermatologist about an appropriate treatment plan for your chronic itching. In the meantime, here are seven ways you may help manage your itchy skin:
Cover the Affected Skin
Some people have an incredibly difficult time not only stopping the urge to itch, but even realizing they’re scratching. Because it’s such an ingrained response, there’s a chance you’re scratching the itch without even realizing it. That includes during your sleep!
For the best chances of healing your skin and getting rid of the itch, wear something that covers the area without irritating the skin. This can include soft clothing or even sleeves made specifically for those with eczema who have difficulty controlling their itching. Avoid wearing tight clothing, because that can irritate the skin.
If you’re really struggling to keep your fingers off the itchy area of your skin, you can ask your dermatologist about an Unna boot or Unna sleeve. Your healthcare provider can apply this gauze that contains therapeutic ingredients. It’s applied wet and dries hard, so you’ll have to have your dermatologist remove the sleeve/boot when the time comes.
Use a Moisturizer
Neurodermatitis makes the skin dry and irritated, meaning it’s extra important to moisturize the skin. However, use a gentle moisturizer, free of fragrances, preservatives, and other irritants, to avoid aggravating the skin further.
Gladskin Eczema Cream is a great example of an effective treatment, free of unnecessary and potentially harmful ingredients! But not only does it hydrate the skin, it also works with your body to help restore balance to the skin microbiome. Four out of five people suffering from eczema experience reduced itch with Gladskin Eczema Cream!
Regulate Your Body Temp
To avoid a flare up, try to keep your body temperature regulated. Heat and sweat can easily aggravate the skin. Even something as simple as sitting next to a heating vent can increase the likelihood of dry skin, which can increase your itching. Be aware of your surroundings and try to keep your skin at a consistent temperature as much as possible.
Balance Your Skin Microbiome
Studies have shown that those who are prone to eczema flares tend to have an unbalanced skin microbiome, which can cause redness, dryness, itching, and a plethora of other uncomfortable symptoms.
There are very few eczema creams on the market that help minimize skin conditions like neurodermatitis by working with your body — instead of against it — to help restore the balance of good and bad bacteria in the skin microbiome.
Worse, common eczema treatments like corticosteroids contain steroids and can contain parabens and preservatives that can further throw off the balance of the skin's delicate microbiome, as well as cause extreme side effects… all while you’re trying to heal your skin!
By using an effective treatment like Gladskin Eczema Cream that tackles the root of the problem, rather than temporarily stopping the symptoms, skin can heal and stay healthy, long-term.
Use a Cool Compress
Using a cool compress can sometimes help to reduce itching. To make your compress, you can either run a washcloth in cold water, place ice cubes in a plastic bag, or use a traditional ice pack.
Take an Antihistamine
Antihistamines can help you sleep by limiting the urge to itch. Sleep is necessary for the body to heal, and taking a drowsy histamine can aid in your body getting the sleep it needs. Many people who struggle with neurodermatitis suffer twofold because their sleep is disturbed. Taking something that helps sleep, which is so crucial to the healing process, can help your skin in the long run.
Neurodermatitis can be a frustrating and uncomfortable form of eczema that greatly impacts your mental health and quality of life.
To minimize the effects of neurodermatitis and manage your itchy skin long-term, it’s important to treat the root cause of the skin condition.
Consult with your dermatologist or healthcare provider to determine the best course of treatment for you.
Gladskin Eczema Cream may be a great place to start! With the environmental toxins and skin care products we’re exposed to on a daily basis in our modern culture, we all likely need some balance for our skin microbiome!