Neurodermatitis is a phenomenon in which an individual develops an ongoing habit of scratching an itchy patch of skin. Generally, the itching is caused by an underlying skin condition that involves dry or irritated skin. At first, the itching begins as a way to alleviate some of the discomfort. However, as the itching becomes more routine, the individual begins to scratch the skin unconsciously and regularly, without really being aware of the action.
The origins of neurodermatitis can be begin with something as simple as scratching an insect bite. Aggressive scratching only serves to further irritate the skin, leading to more scratching. In a short period of time, the root cause for the original itch is overshadowed and the skin is inflamed from all the irritation caused by incessant scratching.
There are a number of health conditions that may lead to the development of neurodermatitis. People who are undergoing severe stress or dealing with an anxiety disorder may initiate the scratching, eventually causing perfectly health skin to become irritated. At the same time, people who have skin rashes or other problems such as eczema may get into a routine of scratching, effectively making the discomfort even worse.
It is important to note the neurodermatitis can involve any area of the skin. Incessant and habitual scratching may lead to discolored and irritated patches of skin on the arms, legs, chest, or even the face or genitals. Often, the desire to itch will become especially severe when resting, with some people even scratching the same spot while sleeping.
Treating neurodermatitis is usually a strategy that approaches the condition from two different directions. First, steps are taken to soothe the irritated skin, allowing it to begin to return to normal. At the same time, some type of counseling will take place to help the individual overcome the obsession with scratching the same area of skin.
In some cases, using wet dressings to cover the irritated patch of skin will expedite the healing process and ease the chance of skin infections. Soaking the dressings in water, then applying them to skin that has been coated with some sort of ointment or cream will help to draw the inflammation out of the area quickly. In more aggressive cases, prescription medication may be employed to help kill the inflammation and any infection that may have developed due to the continual scratching.
Counseling can help the individual to overcome the habit of scratching, and also aid with any underlying causes like depression or anxiety. In some cases, the therapy may be augmented with the use of antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication, effectively breaking the cycle of emotional turmoil that lead to the scratching in the first place.