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"What is neurodermatitis and how is it treated?"

ZocdocAnswersWhat is neurodermatitis and how is it treated?


My mother was diagnosed with neurodermatitis, which I know is related to itching. She's always itching. What's the cause and what can we do to help?


Neurodermatitis is also known as pathologic skin picking. It is characterized by constant picking at and damage to the skin, in the absence of any underlying skin disease that might trigger severe itching and the desire to pick at the skin. In other words, if your mother has been diagnosed formally with neurodermatitis, this means that other skin conditions would have been ruled out, and she would be picked at or scratching her skin because of a compulsion to do so, and not because of any underlying problem with itchy skin. This distinction is important, because the treatment of neurodermatitis is necessarily focused mostly at helping diminish this compulsion. This is done in a number of ways. For example, some medications that are also used to treat depression and obsessive compulsive disorder can be effective in neurodermatitis. Additional, certain forms of psychological therapy or behavioral therapy can help suppress the compulsions. The bottom line is that your mother will need to work with her psychiatrist to develop an effective treatment plan. Based on her symptoms, this may include both medications and therapy sessions. She also may need the help of a dermatologist to manage the damage to the skin that has resulted from the condition.

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