Lichen simplex chronicus is also known as neurodermatitis or scratch dermatitis. This condition is caused by a chronic combination of scratching and itching an area of skin that becomes rough or leathery. Even though it is not dangerous, Lichen Simplex Chronicus can be a challenging cycle to break because of the severity of the itchiness. It can occur anywhere on the skin, but is most commonly found on the ankles, neck, wrist, forearms, thighs, lower leg, behind the knee or on the inner elbow. It may also be affiliated with other skin conditions such as dry skin, eczema or psoriasis.
Lichen Simplex Chronicus occurs more frequently among women than men and generally appears in people between the ages of 30 and 50. If you are having trouble breaking a scratch and itch cycle somewhere on your skin or if the skin becomes painful, contact your dermatologist. Persistent scratching can lead to a bacterial infection. The doctor can prescribe oral corticosteroids and antihistamines to reduce the inflammation and relieve the itching. Anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medications can provide relief to sufferers in some cases. If scratching does lead to an infection, your dermatologist will likely prescribe an oral or topical antibiotic.
Some patients get relief from the itching by applying a moisturizing lotion and covering the area with a wet dressing. Moisture helps the skin absorb the lotion. Peeling ointments containing salycylic acid may also be recommended to soften rough skin.