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Lichen Simplex Chronicus Treatment

Lichen simplex chronicus, also known as neurodermatitis, is caused from an itchy patch of skin. The more you scratch it the more it itches. The skin becomes thick and leathery overtime. While it is not contagious or life-threatening it can spread to other parts of the body. The most common areas affected by lichens are the scalp, nape of the neck, legs, wrists, and forearms, and female or male genitalia.  

Beginning treatment

Treatment begins by learning what causes it on your body. Everyone’s body is different so the causes are different.

Steroid creams and lotions can soothe the swelling and itching sensation. If the steroid creams are not enough, a doctor may prescribe an oral antihistamine or topical steroids. Very few over-the-counter products help Lichen Simplex Chronicus, therefore, it is recommended to see a doctor as soon as possible. Cortisone cream 1% may provide some relief at the initial onset but usually, requires a stronger treatment as the condition progresses.

Treatment is designed to control the itching, prevent the scratching, and address the primary causes. Some treatments may include

  • Medicated anti-inflammatory creams or tacrolimus ointments
  • Corticosteroid injections, Botox injections or ointments
  • Antihistamines or aspirin
  • Anxiety medication and psychotherapy
  • Calcipotriol creams
  • Cryosurgery, which uses liquid nitrogen

A Dermatologist can perform light-based treatments. UVB light is focused on the affected area and may reduce the thickness of the affected skin and ease the itching.

Home Remedies for lichen simplex chronicus

The first step is to stop scratching or rubbing the affected area. When it becomes unbearable, apply a cold compress. Always keep your hands clean and your fingernails trimmed. Dirty or oily hands and nails can cause infection.

Try over-the-counter (OTC) medicated ointments such as hydrocortisone and OTC oral antihistamine. Once you have cleaned and applied cream to the affected area, cover it with a wrap or bandage.

Sometimes a warm bath will relieve the itchiness. You can add calming agents like oatmeal or Aveeno bath oils. Always use a fragrance and dye-free, mild soap, then lightly dry your body, and apply a light moisturizer. Avoid situations that may bring on a nervous reaction, like itching.

When to seek treatment

Seek medical attention if none of the home remedies seem to be resolving the symptoms. Seek immediate medical treatment if your symptoms worsen, or if you experience rash, pain, fever or fluid drainage of the infected area.

See your doctor if the itching does not improve, if you get more lesions or have pain, redness, drainage of pus, or fever.

Lichen simplex chronicus causes

The exact cause is unknown; however, there is medical evidence that a central nervous system reaction can cause the itching. Also, certain skin problems can cause lichen simplex. These conditions include various forms of eczema, psoriasis, neuropathy, fungal infection, and insect bites.

Lichen simplex chronicus signs and symptoms

  • Lichen simplex appears like a flaky, thick plaque formation on the skin. The following are symptoms you may experience. Dry, flaky skin
  • Damaged hair follicles
  • Skin discoloration
  • Thick leathery deposits

Diagnosing lichen simplex chronicus

Your doctor will perform a full physical evaluation. He will examine your skin, checking any of the above signs mentioned. Some other skin conditions have the same characteristics and presentations. Often a biopsy will be done for a complete diagnosis.

Lichen simplex chronicus risk factors

Lichen simplex can affect any age, sex, or race. However, middle to older aged women tend to have higher risk factors. The most common risk factors are prior skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema or dermatitis. Stress and anxiety that can result in nervous scratching can also cause lichen simplex.

Other triggers associated with lichen simplex are poor circulation, scars, insect bites, and dry or otherwise itchy skin.

Lichen simplex chronicus is a treatable skin condition when using the above precautions and treatments. It is important to seek medical treatment as the condition can get worse and lead to infections. If you have more questions regarding a skin condition, ask a Dermatology Expert for detailed information. 

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