Lichen simplex chronicus is a condition caused by a chronic cycle of scratching and itching an area of skin that becomes rough or leathery. It may also be associated with other skin conditions, such as dry skin, eczema, or psoriasis. Also known as neurodermatitis or scratch dermatitis, the condition is rarely dangerous. However, lichen simplex chronicus can be a difficult cycle to break. The discomfort is often so severe that the person with the condition cannot help but scratch the affected area. If you think you have this condition but can’t find relief in over-the-counter products, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist. They will be able to provide personalized care to help treat the lichen simplex chronicus.


Lichen Simplex Chronicus Symptoms and Risk Factors

Lichen simplex chronicus symptoms can occur anywhere on the skin, but they are most often found on the ankles, neck, wrist, forearms, thighs, lower leg, behind the knee or on the inner elbow. Common symptoms include the following:

  • Thick, leathery skin
  • Scaly or bark-like skin
  • Raised patch(es) of dark or red skin
  • Chronically itchy patches of skin

Lichen Simplex Chronicus occurs more frequently among women than men. It also generally appears in people between the ages of 30 and 50.


Lichen Simplex Chronicus Treatment 

If you are unable to break a scratch and itch cycle somewhere on your skin or if the skin becomes painful, you’ll need to receive some type of lichen simplex chronicus treatment. Persistent scratching can lead to bacterial infection, which is only treated with prescription products. The doctor may prescribe oral corticosteroids and antihistamines to reduce the inflammation and relieve the itching. In some cases, antidepressant or anti-anxiety medications provide relief to sufferers. If scratching does lead to an infection, your dermatologist will likely prescribe an oral or topical antibiotic.

Even if your condition does not develop an infection, you’ll likely need a treatment to mitigate any pain and discomfort. Some patients gain relief by applying a moisturizing lotion and covering the area with a wet dressing. Moisture will help the skin absorb the lotion. Peeling ointments containing salycylic acid, such as those used to treat acne, may also be recommended to soften rough skin.


When to See a Doctor for Lichen Simplex Chronicus

Lichen simplex chronicus is not always a dangerous condition, but it can be very uncomfortable to live with. If you’re looking for relief from the condition, a doctor will be able to provide help and guidance. Additionally, if your condition worsens and becomes infected, you will need medical assistance. Only a doctor can prescribe the treatments necessary to address infections caused by this condition.

Importantly, lichen complex chronicus is sometimes confused with other skin conditions, like psoriasis, eczema, and dry skin. Visiting a doctor can help you get the diagnosis you need to get a targeted treatment.

The Skin Care Center of Southern Illinois is uniquely equipped to help with lichen simplex chronic treatments. If you are interested in a consultation with one of our medical dermatologists, contact us to set up your appointment.