What is Neurodermatitis?

Neurodermatitis is an interesting skin ailment that is characterized by a recursive cycle of itching and scratching: the more you scratch, the more you itch, and so on.  While it’s not life-threatening, it can certainly be a nuisance.  In more severe cases, it’s been known to cause problems in daily routines and in sexual function.

Neurodermatitis is treatable.  But to treat it, we must first understand it.  Below, we explore the symptoms of neurodermatitis, what causes it, and how we can get rid of it.

Neurodermatitis Symptoms

Neurodermatitis has two main symptoms. First, there’s the “neuro” part, meaning affecting the nervous system. This is where you have an itch that seems to get more itchy as you scratch it. Second, the “dermatitis” part: because of the incessant scratching, your skin becomes dry, flaky, leathery and rough.

Neurodermatitis can form anywhere on the body. Often, its symptoms appear around the genitals and anus. When symptoms develop in these regions, neurodermatitis can begin to affect sexual function. The condition can also appear on the head, neck, wrists, forearms, and ankles.

It’s not always necessary to go to the doctor for neurodermatitis. However, there are certain situations in which it is imperative to seek the advice of a medical professional.

If/when your neurodermatitis is affecting your day-to-day life, and is refusing to go away on its own, you should work with a doctor on treatments to reduce the symptoms. If your scratching becomes so severe that your skin tears and appears to be infected, call your doctor immediately. Symptoms of an infection include hot skin and/or pus in the infected area, fatigue, shivers, and a fever. An infection can quickly turn serious or life-threatening, so don’t wait until it’s too late to get treated for it.

Neurodermatitis Causes

Neurodermatitis, despite how annoying it can be, is a fascinating affliction.  The cause for the dermatitis is nothing more than constant scratching.  The cause of the compulsive scratching likely does have a psychological cause, but no one really knows what it is.  All we know is that most cases of neurodermatitis begin with a distinct trigger.

The trigger for your neurodermatitis could be something as innocuous as a bug bite.  Often, the clothes that one is wearing can cause an itch which develops into full-blown neurodermatitis.  The ability for something so minor to develop into a skin condition is what makes neurodermatitis truly unique.

Another common reason for neurodermatitis could be an underlying skin condition such as psoriasis or eczema.  As these conditions can cause continual itching, it only makes sense that sometimes they develop into neurodermatitis.

Interestingly, there are several risk factors that can boost one’s chances of getting neurodermatitis.  Women aged 30 to 50 are at the highest risk for developing it.  Those with anxiety disorders are also more likely to get it, as many anxieties manifest in excessive scratching.

Neurodermatitis Treatment Options

Because neurodermatitis is fundamentally a two-part disease (the “neuro” and “dermatitis” concepts discussed earlier), there are two different paths for treatment.

Let’s begin with the “neuro” aspect of the disorder.  Neurodermatitis is caused by excessive, almost compulsive scratching.  Thus, one of the key ways to reduce symptoms is to reduce the impulse to scratch.

If your scratching is the result of anxiety, you may look into talking to a professional about what’s causing your anxiety, or even get a prescription for an anti-anxiety medication.  Doing so can mellow your underlying anxiety, thus reducing the amount of scratching.

Another method that has worked for someone with neurodermatitis is to replace the impulse to itch with a different, healthier compulsion.  Chewing gum, exercising, or focusing on work or a videogame has been shown to distract people long enough for the impulse to scratch to pass.  Understand, however, that this is not the most effective or easiest way to ease your neurodermatitis symptoms, particularly if they’re of a more severe variety. Please consult your doctor to see what will work best for you.

If you find yourself scratching because of itchy, ill-fitting clothes, go ahead and change!  If the scratching is the result of a bug bite, take steps to soothe the bite.  The key is to remove whatever stimulus is causing the itch in the first place.  Allowing your skin to heal naturally once the scratching has subsided is a great way to eliminate your neurodermatitis in a healthy way.

The second part of neurodermatitis, the “dermatitis” itself, is more directly treatable.  The key is to reduce the dryness and irritation present in the scratched area.  We’ve found that the most effective way to do this is through a good, thick dry skin cream like Cutemol, Cutemol Sensitive,  or for something a little lighter, an everyday moisturizer like Moisture-All.  Cutemol Emollient Cream and Cutemol Sensitive serve as thick barrier creams to keep the toxins from the air, your clothes, or any other environmental elements from getting to your skin and keeps it moist and supple at the same time. Moisture-All is an odorless, greaseless formula that combats any kind of dry, irritated skin. These three products are all made by Summers Laboratories, Inc.

The best part of using our creams is that they actually deal with neurodermatitis- a double-whammy.  Obviously, they combat the dry, leathery skin that comes from neurodermatitis.  But in doing so, it also alleviates the itchiness of your skin, which reduces the impulse to scratch.  Using Cutemol Emollient CreamCutemol Sensitive, or Moisture-All can help to cure your dermatitis and prevent it from worsening in the future.