Neurodermatitis starts with a patch of itchy skin, but scratching it makes the area even itchier. Eventually you may scratch simply out of habit. This cycle of chronic itching and scratching can cause the affected skin to become thick and leathery.

Neurodermatitis — also known as lichen simplex chronicus — isn't serious, but breaking the itch-scratch cycle is challenging.

Successful treatment of neurodermatitis depends on identifying and eliminating factors that may be aggravating the problem. Over-the-counter and prescription creams can help ease neurodermatitis symptoms.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications

Signs and symptoms of neurodermatitis include:

  • Itchy skin in a single limited area
  • Leathery or scaly texture to the skin
  • Raised, rough patch that is red or darker than the rest of your skin

The primary symptom of neurodermatitis is itchy skin — often a single patch on the neck, wrist, forearm, thigh or ankle. Sometimes neurodermatitis affects genital areas, such as the vulva or scrotum.

The itchiness, which can be very intense, tends to come and go. Eventually you may scratch simply out of habit.

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if:

  • You catch yourself repeatedly scratching the same patch of skin.
  • The itch prevents you from sleeping or focusing on your daily routines.
  • Your skin becomes painful or looks infected.

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