Neurodermatitis: What is it? Causes and Treatment


Have you ever had body issues that have led to insecurities and discomfort in your own skin? Many of us go through a phase in our lives where we deal with acne, weight gain, facial hair, or other conditions that hinder our sense of self. Neurodermatitis is one such condition.

What is neurodermatitis?

Neurodermatitis is a skin condition that is similar to eczema. It causes itching, irritation, and inflammation of a particular region of the skin. It is pretty simple to identify. Neurodermatitis starts as a simple itch on one spot on your skin. If you scratch it constantly, it leads to the skin thickening and darkening. It may even lead to the skin gaining a leathery, unpleasant look. 

It gets its name from being a neurological skin disorder resulting from irritation to the nerve endings. The term dermatitis is generally used for any skin condition that results in inflammation. The more scientific term used by doctors to identify this condition is lichen simplex chronicus. 

What causes neurodermatitis?

Most causes affect the nervous system in some way, which triggers the skin condition. Although the exact cause for the disease has not been identified, many triggers for the condition have been studied.  

  • One such example would be causing unnecessary friction against the skin by wearing clothes that are too tight for too long. This can damage the nerves on the skin’s surface, thereby increasing the chances of triggering neurodermatitis. 
  • Furthermore, unnecessary exposure to heat or harsh detergents or soaps that may contain allergens can trigger neurodermatitis. 
  • Insect bites are also a well-known reason for random appearances of this skin condition.

Is neurodermatitis contagious?

Unlike other forms of eczema that cause itching, redness, and inflammation, neurodermatitis is not contagious. It is also neither life-threatening nor dangerous. However, it spurs the constant need to itch at the affected spot all the time. This is the main reason why neurodermatitis gets its characteristic leathery, thickened look.

What is the difference between neurodermatitis and eczema?

Although similar to one another, neurodermatitis and atopic dermatitis (also called eczema) have two significant differences.

  • Firstly, atopic dermatitis affects an area as a whole and spreads the redness, while neurodermatitis is capable of being spot-specific, leaving the surrounding skin looking normal.
  • Secondly, atopic dermatitis is witnessed more in children and infants, while neurodermatitis only tends to show up in the middle-aged demographic. Some doctors attribute this to the trigger of stress in everyday life, which may influence the condition seeing that the nervous system is involved.

How long does Neurodermatitis last? 

Neurodermatitis is one of those skin conditions with no specific time period to refer to in terms of healing. The main criterion to be fulfilled in order for healing to take place is to refrain from itching. And asking anyone who has suffered from neurodermatitis will let you know how difficult that can be. 

How to help heal neurodermatitis?

1. Stop scratching!

Treatments work on this condition based on how well you can resist the urge to itch. Being the most challenging part of this skin condition, it is the cause of all the other symptoms that follow. Experts often refer to this as a vicious itch-and-scratch cycle, and the way to treat this is to break the continuous cycle. 

2. Build your resistance

More than anything, this can test the patience and willpower of patients. Many people who suffer from this condition complain of frustration and stress caused either due to the itching or from their continued efforts not to do so. 

3. Topical creams

Based on the general opinion of doctors and patients, the best solution found so far for neurodermatitis has been topical creams that can reduce itching and lighten the skin, returning it to its previous condition. 

4. Over-the-counter medication

These have to be prescribed by doctors to ensure that the ingredients do not clash with any personal allergies that the patient might have. Many over-the-counter products are known to work, but safety against allergic reactions are the only concern.

5. Don’t jump to extreme options

Doctors and dermatologists, in general, do not recommend going under the knife for such a skin condition since it is neither life-threatening nor dangerous.

How effective are natural remedies for neurodermatitis?

Because neurodermatitis is a persistent skin condition and is relatively harmless, patients often opt for natural remedies. The most crucial guidance is to stop scratching it and avoid the triggers mentioned above.

  1. A simple way to do this would be to apply cool and wet compresses to the concerned areas. This is known to cool the area and reduce the urge to itch.
  1. You can follow this up by applying any prescribed medication. It may show better results.
  1. By simply covering the concerned areas, you can reduce the chances of scratching them.
  1. However, most dermatologists still suggest that patients simply clean the area and follow up with hydrating moisturising routines for healthier skin.

The silver lining

This form of dermatitis can be quite tedious and frustrating, and if you have been diagnosed with it by a doctor, we hope this article has helped you understand it better.

But on the brighter side, neurodermatitis is a skin condition that you can easily battle with willpower and a positive attitude in general!


The natural remedies mentioned in the blog are the widely popular ones. It is in no way a substitute for medical advice, treatment or diagnosis. Avoid using these if you have sensitive skin or are prone to allergies. 

Before trying any natural remedy, always test a small quantity on your skin to check for any adverse reactions or allergies to any particular ingredient. In case of emergency or any reaction, immediately connect with a doctor who can offer the proper treatment.


1. Is neurodermatitis curable?

It is an unfortunate but inevitable fact that neurodermatitis is a type of skin condition that is incurable.

2. What is neurodermatitis disseminata?

Neurodermatitis disseminata is when the itchiness, redness, and irritation occurs in areas that can be reached easily, such as the ankle, feet, wrist, arms, head, and neck.

3. Will neurodermatitis go away?

This happens only if you refrain from aggravating the area by not itching it. Its triggers can also make it come back.

4. What are the triggers for neurodermatitis?

The triggers for neurodermatitis include anxiety, stress, itching and other irritants.

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Picture of Dr Jisha Gomez

Dr Jisha Gomez

She is a highly skilled dermatology physician with strong expertise in improving skin & hair health through the development of corrective treatment combinations. She completed her Post-graduate Diploma in Dermatology from Cardiff, UK & Fellowship in Aesthetic Medicine (FAM) from the Institute of Laser and Aesthetic Medicine, Delhi with over 5+ years experience treating skin patients. She has worked in Government hospitals in Trivandrum and Bangalore. She is actively involved in creating awareness for healthy skin, breaking the social stigma based on skin colour & stopping steroid abuse in our country.