Neurodermatitis, atopic eczema in acute attacks on the body
Neurodermatitis is a very common, chronic skin change that occurs on the face and/or body. The skin is very dry, reddened and itchy. Those affected experience a phased progression of their skin symptoms: A relapse-free (“symptom-free”) phase, in which the body skin is dry and irritated, but the skin symptoms can be managed, and an acute or “relapse phase”, in which the skin is inflamed and itches. During an acute episode, the application of intensive skin care in combination with a medicinal treatment may be necessary.
What is neurodermatitis?
Because the skin is dry to extremely dry and itchy in acute phases, those affected scratch. Scratching additionally destroys the skin barrier. This makes the skin susceptible to infection. These bacteria cause a new irritation, which in turn causes a new itching.
Acute relapses must be treated with antipruritic, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial drugs.
Neurodermatitis can be aggravated by heat and those affected must pay attention to the tissues they are wearing. Silk or soft cotton is preferable to wool or nylon. Sweating and scratching can also lead to sleep disorders.
Consult a derm
atologist if you are uncertain about your skin symptoms.
Causes & Triggers
Potential causes and triggers of neurodermatitis
Experts have identified various causes and influencing factors.
- There seems to be a genetic link between neurodermatitis, hay fever and asthma. If one or both parents suffer or have suffered from one or more of these diseases, this proportionally increases the likelihood that the child will develop neurodermatitis. If both parents have neurodermatitis, there is a 60-80% chance that the child will inherit the disease.
- Relationships can be established between the living environment and the risk of disease. Cities with high air pollution and cold climate increase the risk. In a study comparing Jamaican children living in London with those living in Jamaica, twice as many cases were found among London children.
- Children of older mothers are more prone to neurodermatitis than children of younger mothers.
Further influencing factors
Other influencing factors
In the case of skin affected by neurodermatitis, it is important to keep it cool and reduce irritation. Among the amplifying trigger factors are:
- Clothing that makes the body sweat, for example non-breathing nylon
- Clothing that rubs against irritated skin, for example wool
- Certain foods. These vary from person to person, but common triggers are dairy products, nuts and shellfish
- House dust mites, dust, pollen or other allergens
- Detergents and cleaning agents
- Cigarette and cigar smoke
- Stress and insomnia can also aggravate the skin symptoms.
Keep a diary of the course of your neurodermatitis and record all the accompanying circumstances. This can help to identify individual trigger factors.
Alleviate the symptoms of a neurodermatitis flare
There is currently no known cure for atopic dermatitis, but the symptoms of the acute and relapse-free phase can be alleviated by consistent, effective skin care and appropriate medical treatment. Often, however, even the most consistent skin care cannot prevent the occurrence of an acute episode and those affected must find ways to reduce the symptoms.
Refatting and moisturizing skin care must be applied daily, regardless of the skin symptoms. These lotions, face creams, shower oils and bath additives keep the skin smooth and moisturized, making it less susceptible to pollutants and reducing itching.
Among the most important ingredients in skin care for neurodermatitis:
- Omega-6 fatty acids: Evening primrose seed oil and grape seed oil: They regenerate the skin’s natural protective barrier and strengthen the skin.
- Licochalcone A (an extract from the liquorice root). It is a natural ingredient that soothes the skin and reduces redness.
Treatment of neurodermatitis with drugs
Acute episodes often require the use of a topical medication in addition to daily skin care. Glucocorticoids (such as hydrocortisone) act effectively and quickly to relieve itching and reduce inflammation. However, glucocorticoids are only recommended for short-term use and are only available on prescription.
Daily skin care for neurodermatitis of the body
Skin symptoms vary from person to person, but there are a number of lifestyle changes that sufferers unanimously say help them cope with their neurodermatitis.
- Keep the room temperature cool but not cold. Sweating irritates the skin and causes itching.
- Store creams and ointments in the refrigerator, as cooled skin care products additionally alleviate itching.
- Keep a diary of food, drink and potential changes in the environment to determine if they affect skin symptoms.
- Some destinations have a greater therapeutic effect than others. Examples are the North Sea, Atlantic, Dead Sea, Mediterranean and mountain regions – although extreme cold should be avoided.
- Yoga, meditation and other relaxation techniques help to reduce stress, one of the triggers for acute attacks.
- When itching, it is better to tap the skin than to scratch it. Both soothe the skin, but knocking does not damage the skin barrier.
- Keep fingernails of affected children short and smooth to minimize injuries from scratching.
- Try to wear cotton gloves at night to prevent scratching during sleep.
- Shower rather than bath and keep the temperature below 32°. Showering too often can dry out the skin.
- Do not rub wet skin dry, but dab dry if possible and then apply cream or lotion directly.
- Avoid rough body brushes or peeling gloves.
Please consult a doctor or dermatologist if you are not sure how to alleviate your skin symptoms.