Lichen simplex chronicus
Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors
Lichen simplex chronicus is a skin disorder characterized by an itching inflammation of the top layer of the skin.
What is going on in the body?
Lichen simplex chornicus may result from an irritation of the skin, causing the person to rub or scratch the area. This causes thickening of the skin. The thickening skin itches, causing more scratching and more thickening.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
The cause of lichen simplex chronicus is unknown, but psychological factors, such as anxiety and depression, may play a role. The condition doesn't seem to be allergic. It may be a result of something rubbing or scratching the skin, causing the person to scratch the area. It is common among Asians and Native Americans, and usually develops in people who are between the ages of 20 and 50.
Symptoms & Signs
What are the signs and symptoms of the condition?
Lichen simplex chronicus can occur anywhere on the body. In the early stages, the skin looks normal, but it itches. Later, dryness, scaling, and dark patches develop as a result of the scratching and rubbing.
Diagnosis & Tests
How is the condition diagnosed?
The diagnosis of lichen simplex chronicus is based on the appearance of the skin, and a history of chronic itching and scratching.
Prevention & Expectations
What can be done to prevent the condition?
For lichen simplex chronicus to clear up, the person must stop scratching and rubbing the skin. Control of stress and other emotional conditions may be helpful in the prevention of this condition.
What are the long-term effects of the condition?
The skin lesions of lichen simplex chronicus may persist for years and are prone to secondary infection and scarring.
What are the risks to others?
There are no risks to others, as lichen simplex chronicus is not contagious.
Treatment & Monitoring
What are the treatments for the condition?
Treatment of lichen simplex chronicus may include:
- antihistamines to relieve the itching
- sedatives and tranquilizers to reduce stress
- corticosteroids creams
- corticosteroid injections into the affected area to reduce itching and inflammation
- occlusive dressing, which seals a wound completely, to prevent the person from scratching
- antidepressants, if there is an emotional component to the condition
- counseling, stress management, or behavior modification
What are the side effects of the treatments?
Side effects of treatment depend on the medication used. They may include drowsiness, dry mouth, and allergic reactions.
What happens after treatment for the condition?
Lichen simplex chronicus skin lesions generally clear up completely with treatment. However, they may recur later.
How is the condition monitored?
Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.