dry skin and unbearable itching

Neurodermatitis at first sight

  • Neurodermatitis is also known as atopic dermatitis or atopic eczema.
  • Neurodermatitis is a non-infectious, chronic skin disease.
  • Typical symptoms are rash and intolerable itching.
  • Neurodermitis often occurs in children and often improves or even disappears with age.
  • Atopic dermatitis progresses in stages, the symptoms are sometimes more, sometimes less severe.
  • Most of the time, flares are triggered by certain triggers.
  • In adults, the face, neck, elbows, back of the knees, hands and feet are particularly affected by neurodermatitis.
  • Atopic dermatitis cannot be cured, but good skin care, medication, and avoidance of triggers can often get the disease under control.
Atopic dermatitis: Facts about chronic skin disease

The skin is dry, scaly and itchy – we have the facts about the chronic skin disease neurodermatitis and we will tell you what helps against it. © Satjawat Boontanataweepol

What is neurodermatitis?

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic or chronically recurrent inflammatory skin disease. It is also known as atopic eczema or atopic dermatitis and often co-occurs with hay fever, allergies or allergic asthma. The disease is not contagious and occurs in stages, the skin is dry, scaly, red and itchy. Atopic dermatitis on the face mainly affects the eyes, lips and mouth. Wet blisters can also form in the acute phase. Atopic dermatitis almost always occurs in infancy, but many children get rid of their symptoms over time. In Germany, an estimated 1 to 3 percent of adults suffer from skin diseases and children are much more likely to be affected. Acute attack of neurodermatitis usually triggers external influences, but also mental stress or hormonal factors.

Neurodermatitis: who is affected?

Atopic eczema often appears in the first months of life. The sooner a child becomes ill, the faster the disease grows in most cases, and many children leave the disease at the latest when they reach puberty. In some cases, however, atopic dermatitis accompanies us throughout life and can significantly affect the quality of our lives. In adulthood, women are more likely to be affected by this disease than men.

Atopic eczema: These are typical symptoms

Atopic dermatitis occurs in stages. Acute recurrences of the disease are added to chronic inflammation.

Symptoms of chronic inflammation are:

  • dry, scaly skin
  • sensitive, easily tearing skin
  • extensive, leathery thickening of the skin (lichenification)
  • nodules and pustules

Symptoms of acute inflammation are:

  • intensely red colored skin
  • weeping blisters
  • severe itching
  • burning skin
  • typical areas of neurodermatitis: hands, elbows, back of knees and face
Severe itching and burning of blemishes on the skin

Severe itching and red burning on the skin – here you can read what causes the skin disease neurodermatitis and what helps. © trojoceán

Atopic dermatitis of the hands is manifested by redness, blisters, cuts, cracks and thickening of the skin. Neurodermatitis in the eye is also known as eyelid eczema and is affected not only by itching and pain, but often also by swelling of the eyelids. Severe itching often lasts all day and worsens at night. It affects us very badly, we scratch constantly, sometimes unconsciously. Sleep disorders occur, we are constantly overloaded and as a result we often have problems at school and at work.

Neurodermatitis: These are the causes

There is no single cause of neurodermatitis. Rather, it is a combination of various factors that trigger skin diseases. It includes:

  • Damaged skin barrier: The stratum corneum, ie the upper layer of our skin, is disturbed by inflammatory reactions in the skin and cannot properly fulfill its protective function. As a result, the skin loses a lot of moisture and dries quickly. On the other hand, irritants, allergens and germs can easily penetrate the skin barrier.
  • Heredity: If both parents have eczema, the child is 60 to 80 percent more likely to be affected. If only one parent is affected, the probability is 40 percent.
  • Allergies: 2 out of 3 neurodermatitis have a concomitant allergy, mostly to food, pollen, mites or animal hair, sometimes a contact allergy to fragrances or preservatives in cosmetics.
  • Triggers: Outbreaks of eczema are often triggered by triggers, including:
    • Extreme climates such as cold, drought, heat, stuffy
    • Dry skin from frequent washing
    • Mechanical stress on the skin, such as scratching or rubbing clothing on the skin
    • certain foods and ingredients
    • Environmental factors such as pollen, house dust, chemicals
    • Stress, conflicts, burnout or other mental stress
    • Animal hair and feathers: cat, guinea pig, hamster, horse
    • infection

Neurodermatitis: How to recognize atopic dermatitis

Not every itchy skin lesion is atopic eczema. It is best for your doctor to check for neurodermatitis. During the interview, a medical history is taken, followed by a physical examination and various tests that can be used to rule out other diseases. If atopic dermatitis is suspected to be associated with an allergy, appropriate allergic tests and blood tests shall be performed.

What helps against neurodermatitis?

Eczema is a chronic skin disease that cannot be cured. The treatment of neurodermatitis is a long topic and primarily aims to alleviate symptoms, ie to tolerate itching and prolong the time between acute attacks. Different treatment approaches are combined for this purpose.

Intensive skin care

Thorough skin care is the most important part of atopic eczema therapy and must be applied throughout life. To do this, apply a moisturizer at least twice a day. The recommended dose for an adult is about 1 kilogram of cream per month, that is 2 to 3 bottles of body milk! This will provide your skin with sufficient moisture and relieve itching.

Cream: skin and body care for neurodermatitis

Take care of your skin and apply a moisturizer on it – in the beauty article you will find our beauty hacks that help with neurodermatitis. © fizkes

avoiding stimuli

Some substances can irritate your skin, so use body cleansers, shampoos and cleansers without soap, as well as hypoallergenic cleansers without perfume. Try to avoid all substances that irritate your skin and can cause a flare-up of neurodermatitis. This can be difficult at first due to the long list of possible triggers, but as the therapy progresses, you will identify more and more triggers and purposefully avoid them.

Treatment with cortisone ointments

If an outbreak of neurodermatitis occurs, it is treated with ointments containing cortisone. This is very effective in relieving itching and inflammation. Use cortisone ointments only after consulting your doctor, as cortisone cream thins the skin and atopic dermatitis worsens over time. In the case of frequent flares, cortisone can be creamed on the affected areas of the skin twice a week at intervals, so that flares occur much less frequently.

Application of light therapy

Phototherapy is now firmly established in the treatment of neurodermatitis. It calms the immune system in the upper layers of the skin and acts against inflammation. Usually, more sessions are needed, which take place on an outpatient basis in a general practitioner’s office. But beware: Like sunbathing, light therapy can increase the risk of premature skin aging and herpes infections and skin cancer.

immunosuppressants

In the case of extensive and severe neurodermatitis, drugs that suppress the immune system are given. This can alleviate severe, persistent eczema. This therapy is only performed under medical supervision and only for a limited time, as serious side effects may occur in the long term.

Get rid of neurodermatitis by home means

Home remedies seldom work miracles and are not scientifically proven. However, cooling compresses can help relieve acute itching, suppress inflammation and soothe the skin. Tiles with black tea, whose tannic acid has an anti-inflammatory effect, or a tile with an infusion of chamomile flowers have proved their worth. However, please note that the medicinal plant may cause allergic reactions. Evening primrose oil or St. John’s wort oil can soothe itching, have an anti-inflammatory effect and soothe the skin.

Which home remedies help with neurodermatitis?

It burns and itches – in the cosmetic article you will learn which home remedies really help with neurodermatitis and how you can use them to manage your daily life. © Rattankun Thongbun

Neurodermatitis: This can prevent relapses

Thorough basic care is the most important means of preventing acute flare-ups of neurodermatitis. This includes, on the one hand, daily rubbing moisturizers into the skin and, on the other hand, avoiding anything that irritates the skin. I.e:

  • use hypoallergenic bedding
  • wear breathable clothing
  • Prefer natural fibers such as silk and cotton
  • Wash bed linen regularly
  • Avoid heat build-up
  • Do not overdo personal hygiene: wash your armpits, face and genital area daily, other parts of the body only once or twice a week
  • Avoid perfumes in cosmetics
  • Use soap-free detergents
  • Avoid excessive sweating
  • live relaxed and without stress

Life and daily life with neurodermatitis

It is often underestimated how much the disease can complicate our lives and worsen our quality of life. Unbearable itching, sleepless nights, fatigue and lack of concentration are part of our daily lives and can also lead to problems at school or at work. In addition, skin rashes are often unpleasant and we would like to hide them for fear of how others will react. Finding the right treatment for yourself and dealing with the challenges of everyday life requires a lot of patience.

Special courses of atopic dermatitis for us as disabled people, parents or caregivers offer help in managing the disease and provide information about treatment options. You will also find a good opportunity to exchange ideas with other disabled people in self-help groups.

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