Lichenification: Best Home Treatment Tips 2022?

 

Ok so before we start, quick raise of hands. Who has absolutely no idea what lichenification is?!

Yeh, us included! 

But let’s not let that get in the way now. 

It’s time to break down this mystery term and hit you with some hard facts + top tips for how to treat at home. 

In this article, you’ll find: 

1) What is lichenification?

2) Causes

3) Commonly affected areas

4) Top tips for a simple home treatment plan

So, what is lichenification? 

In simplified terms, it’s when your skin becomes hardened, thick and leathery. 

With the medical name of lichen simplex chronicus or neurodermatitis (as if it wasn’t complicated enough already), these tough patches are as a direct result of the damage caused by repeated itching of the skin. 

Lichenification in itself isn’t a skin disease, but more the result of something else that causes repeated scratching (i.e. eczema). 

When you constantly scratch or rub one specific area of the body, it can cause your skin cells to grow more than they should do. 

This growth leads to a thickening of the skin and can cause certain marks, such as cracks or fissures, to become more pronounced. 

The skin can often then be referred to as looking ‘bark like’, but rest assured that simple comparison is where it ends between you and a tree (unless there’s something else you’re not telling us). 

Causes of lichenification 

As mentioned, the main cause of lichenification is repetitive scratching on one part of the skin over long periods. 

This can be as a result of a number of factors, with the main contributor being itchy skin (well duh).

What drives this incessant need to itch can be a result of: 

- Eczema (contact and atopic dermatitis being big culprits)

- Psoriasis

- Fungal infections

- Insect bites

- Stress or anxiety 

It’s important to note that lichenification can get worse the longer it’s left untreated, so if you fear your skin is heading in this direction it’s important to take action and speak with your doctor immediately.  

Commonly affected areas of the body

- Head, particularly the scalp

- Neck

- Arms

- Genitals (yay)

- Forearm and elbow crease

- Upper eyelids

- Fold behind the ear

- Lower legs

- Chest 

The affected area can also often change colour (usually darker). The medical term for this is hyperpigmentation. 

And just to top it off, areas of lichenification are typically irregular in shape. Wonderful! 

Top tips for a simple home treatment plan

Let’s rewind to the root cause here - when it comes to lichenification it’s imperative we stop the need to itch. 

We’ve all heard the advice from that one really annoying family member... “but yeh have you tried just like not scratching?”

OF COURSE WE’VE TRIED NOT SCRATCHING (sorry but this is an emotional subject).

Just sometimes, merely wanting to stop itching isn’t enough. 

The desire becomes too great and you fall into that perilous downward spiral of itch, scratch, itch that can be so difficult to break free from and only makes things worse. 

So what can we do? 

1) As luck would have it, our calming spray might be just the ticket. Enriched with a blend of 3 traditional Chinese herbs used for 1000’s of years in Asian medicine, our unique formula nourishes and hydrates the dry patches whilst repairing the skin barrier. A great combo when it comes to soothing angry skin.

2) Antihistamines - these can either be over the counter or prescription but we would advise talking with a health professional before you jump down this path.

3) Keep your nails short and wear gloves to bed. Yes this may seem a little odd and can cause overheating in the night, but it’s effective if you subconsciously scratch yourself whilst you sleep.

4) Understand your triggers! This is really the root cause of dealing with any type of eczema. Getting a grip on what sets your skin off and causes flare ups is key to kicking eczema in the butt (although we know sometimes this isn’t as straightforward as it sounds).

5) Use fragrance free, gentle skin care products. This might seem obvious enough to alot of you, but it’s important enough to reiterate. 

Sum up

Lichenification is a physically and emotionally draining condition. The stress and anxiety caused by intensely itchy skin can become unbearable. 

Lack of sleep, social anxiety, depression - these are things that can creep up on you if you let eczema and lichenification take hold. 

So don’t - follow the steps above and start to take back control of your life. 

What have we missed? Jump over to our Twitter page and let us know! 

With care, 

The yan-yee team

Sources

- Fungal infections of the skin. (n.d.) Link

- Hyperpigmentation. (n.d.) Link

- Aboobacker S, et al. (2020). Lichenification. Link

- Lichen Simplex. (2019). Link

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