Lichen simplex chronicus (neurodermatitis)

Lichen simplex chronicus (neurodermatitis)

Lichen simplex chronicus (also known as neurodermatitis) tends to occur in patients with a history of atopy.5, 18 It is caused by habitual scratching, rubbing or picking at a single localised area of the skin. This damages the protective barrier of the skin, increasing susceptibility to irritants and infection.18 Thickening of the top layers of the skin occurs as a response to this chronic mechanical trauma.19

Itching is intense and may be continuous.10,19,20 Neurodermatitis is therefore associated with a chronic itch-scratch cycle, as scratching offers temporary relief and often occurs subconsciously or while sleeping.9,18 

The skin lesions associated with neurodermatitis most frequently appear around the anus and genitals, but can also arise on the neck, elbows, face and eyelids.18,21 These appear as one or more thickened and red leathery plaques.20 Scratching with the fingernails can lead to breaks in the skin over the plaques that may be covered with blood or serous crusts.18 

Neurodermatitis occurs in 0.1-1% of the general population.10 It is more common in adults than children, developing predominantly in mid-to late-life. In children, neurodermatitis is slightly more frequent in boys whereas in adults it is slightly more prevalent in women.9,19,21 

References

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UK/GEN/16/0051 Date of preparation: October 2016