What is neurodermatitis?
Neurodermatitis (atopic dermatitis/atopic eczema/endogenous eczema) is a chronic in episodes occurring disease of the skin. The symptoms are an excruciating itching in typical locations such as the face, neck, arms, legs and in the large crooks. The skin is dry, cracked and scaly.
Affected patients often suffer from hay fever (allergic rhino conjunctivitis) or allergic bronchial asthma. If one parent suffers from neurodermatitis, the risk of passing the responsible gene to its follow generations increases by multiple times (67% if both parents affected).
How does neurodermatitis develop?
The cause of neurodermatitis is a missing structural protein (filaggrin) in the skin, which leads to increased water loss from skin and a complex inflammatory process. This causes dry and scaly skin with severe itching.
The itch-scratch cycle maintains and increases inflammation. This creates a “vicious circle”. Recurring flare-ups can be provoked by external factors such as weather, sweating, pollen or infections.
What are typical triggers for atopic dermatitis flare-ups?
Atopic dermatitis flare-ups can be triggered by various factors, including infections, allergic reactions to certain foods, environmental allergens such as pollen or dust mites, as well as emotional stress or other physical or mental stress reactions. Sweat and sports, frequent showering, swimming and other skin-stressing influences can also aggravate atopic dermatitis.
How can you treat neurodermatitis?
Trigger factors to avoid:
- do not bathe too often or hot. A short shower with lukewarm water is recommended
- do not use textiles made of natural wool or rough fibers. Cotton is preferred
- do not use degreasing soaps. Cleansing that contains alcohol should be avoided at all costs.
- apply a thin layer of moisturizer several times a day
- avoid citrus fruits like lemons, tangerines etc.
How is neurodermatitis treated?
Treatment is individual and depends on the severity of the affected areas and the distribution.
We generally recommend proactive therapy for patients with neurodermatitis:
In order to restore the skin barrier function, a consistent skin care therapy with basic moisturizer is recommended at all times.
Studies of neurodermatitis patients have shown that even when the eczema is not visible, the number of inflammatory cells in the skin is increased.
Therefore, it is recommended to continue the usage of corticosteroid creme therapy for eczema treatment at a low dosage.
With this therapy regimen it is possible to prevent flare ups and reduce the symptoms significantly.
We recommend following instructions:
Visibly affected areas 1-2x daily with a preparation containing cortisone (determined by the dermatologist)
- 2x/ week (e.g. wednesday and saturday)
- duration 6 months for moderate severity, 12-24 months for severe severity
- daily moisturizing care cream as a basic therapy