Neurodermatitis: Tips for managing
To clear neurodermatitis, you need to do 2 things: Follow your treatment plan.
- Stop scratching, rubbing, and touching the affected area(s).
- Even the most effective treatment can fail if you scratch, rub, or touch the area with neurodermatitis.
Because this can be difficult, dermatologists offer these tips to help lessen the itch:
Follow your treatment plan. Your plan includes medicine that can stop the itch. For the medicine to work, you must use it as directed.
If the itch starts, apply a cool compress or take a cool bath. This reduces the heat, which can reduce or eliminate the itch. Adding colloidal oatmeal (available where you buy health and beauty products) to a cool bath can also help reduce the itch.
Try to stay calm. Emotional stress and anxiety can cause neurodermatitis to flare.
Keep your body at a comfortable temperature. Heat and sweat can irritate your skin, causing the itch to flare.
Wear loose-fitting cotton clothing that feels smooth to the touch. Tight clothing can irritate the skin, causing the area to itch. It’s also best to avoid clothing made of wool or a synthetic fabric like polyester or rayon.
Avoid what irritates your skin or causes an allergic skin reaction. If you’re uncertain what can do this, ask your dermatologist about triggers.
Until you feel ready to stop scratching . . .If you’ve been scratching the same area for years, it may be difficult to stop. Until you feel that you can avoid scratching, rubbing, and touching the area, the following tips may help.
Cover the area. Wrapping the area in plastic, covering it with clothing or a corticosteroid tape, or wearing an Unna boot (gauze dressing that contains ingredients like zinc oxide to promote healing) can prevent you from scratching. This can be very helpful if you scratch while sleeping.
Keep your fingernails very short. If you scratch, very short fingernails tend to cause less damage.
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Habif TP, Campbell JL, et al. “Lichen simplex chronicus” (card #7). Dermatology DDxDeck. Mosby Elsevier 2006.
Hogan DJ (author), James WD (editor). “Lichen simplex chronicus.” Medscape. Last updated July 2014.