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What is Nodular Prurigo?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 26 August 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Nodular prurigo is a skin condition characterized by the development of hard, itchy lumps and thickened skin. This condition can be extremely difficult to treat, and may become a persistent problem for a patient, recurring repeatedly and never completely resolving. Most patients with this condition benefit from the treatment of a dermatologist. Dermatologists specialize in skin care and can help patients manage the condition, and they also have access to the latest information and research, allowing them to provide the most suitable treatment.

The nodules usually start to appear on the extremities, and cluster in groups which can range from a handful of lumps to over 100. The lumps are intensely itchy, and may be darker or lighter than the surrounding skin. It is not uncommon for them to become scaly, especially in the case of older lumps. The itchiness often leads patients to scratch, which can lead to secondary infections and issues such as open skin lesions. Patients may also experience social discomfort because the nodules tend to attract unwanted attention when they are visible.

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The cause of nodular prurigo is not known. People with a history of skin conditions appear to be more likely to develop it, as do adults between 20 and 60 years of age. It has also been linked with some medical conditions including autoimmune diseases and AIDS. In some cases, the nodular prurigo is actually the result of an untreated skin infection, in which case it may be possible to treat the condition relatively easily, once the infection is identified.

Treatment approaches vary. Some doctors prescribe antibiotics to treat skin lesions and to confirm that an infectious agent is not responsible. Skin softeners and moisturizers may be beneficial for reducing irritation and keeping the skin soothed. Removal of the lumps is sometimes effective, and treatments like light therapy and steroids may also be used. Nodular prurigo may return when treatment is stopped, suggesting that the treatment can keep it at bay but not resolve it.

Patients with nodular prurigo need to avoid scratching the nodules, because they can break their skin by scratching and cultivate infections. Some find it helpful to wear stockings to make the skin harder to scratch, or to wear gloves. Applying moisturizers can soothe the itching, making it easier for people to resist scratching. Doctors may also recommend that patients distract themselves with focused activities and avoid leisure time in which they may be tempted to scratch or pick at the hard nodules out of boredom or irritation.

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