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Lichen simplex chronicus
DefinitionLichen simplex chronicus is a skin disorder characterized by chronic itching and scratching. The constant scratching causes thick, leathery, brownish skin.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
This is a skin disorder characterized by a self-perpetuating scratch-itch cycle:
This disorder may be associated with atopic dermatitis (eczema) or psoriasis . It may also be associated with nervousness, anxiety, depression, and other psychologic disorders.
It is common in children, who chronically scratch insect bites and other areas. It can also be common in mentally retarded children who have chronic repetitive movements.
Signs and testsThe diagnosis is primarily based on the appearance of the skin and a history of chronic itching and scratching. A skin lesion biopsy may be needed to confirm the diagnosis.
The primary treatment is to stop scratching the skin. This may include counseling to become aware of the importance of not scratching, stress management, or behavior modification.
The itching and inflammation may be treated with a lotion or steroid cream applied to the affected area of the skin. Peeling ointments, such as those containing salicylic acid, may be used on thickened lesions. Soaps or lotions containing coal tar may be recommended.
Dressings that cover and protect the area may be used with or without topical medications. They are left in place for a week or more at a time.
Expectations (prognosis)Lichen simplex chronicus may be controlled by reducing stress and scratching. It may return or change sites.
Calling your health care providerCall your health care provider if symptoms worsen or new symptoms develop, especially signs of skin infection such as pain, redness or drainage from the lesion, or fever.
Update Date: 4/15/2003Michael Lehrer, M.D., Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT