This patient information and photograph on Lichen Striatus is provided by John L. Meisenheimer, M.D. a board certified Dermatologist and skin care specialist based in Orlando, Florida. This information is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice or treatment of a dermatologist or other physician.

What is it?

Lichen simplex chronicus is a peculiar disorder of the skin. It can occur at any age, but it is more common in adults. Typically it appears as patches of thickened itchy skin. These thickened patches may occur anywhere on the body.

What causes it?

Lichen simplex chronicus is an inflammatory disease of the skin that is caused by rubbing and scratching. Many factors may have been the basis for the initial itch, from an insect bite to dry skin, but the initial insult is now long gone, and what is left is a thick, dry, itchy patch of skin.

Why lichen simplex chronicus occurs is unknown, but we do know that rubbing and scratching makes it worse. When rubbing and scratching occurs the skin responds by thickening. Thick skin dries and cracks easily and dry cracked skin also itches. Therefore, you are caught in a vicious itch-scratch-itch cycle, and the skin won’t heal because you are scratching, and the scratching makes the itch worse.

Is it dangerous?

Lichen simplex chronicus is a harmless disorder. It is not related to cancer and it does not involve internal organs.

Can it be cured?

The treatment plan is directed at stopping the itching long enough for the skin to return to normal. The treatment program I put you on will help control or clear the disorder, but it is not a cure. After the lichen simplex chronicus is totally cleared, some will be predisposed to have repeat episodes. Repeat treatments may be needed and some individuals will require continuous therapy.

Will it spread?

Many people have more than one spot.

Is it contagious?

Lichen simplex chronicus is not contagious and you can not “catch it” from anyone. It is not a fungus infection.

© John “Lucky” Meisenheimer, M.D.  2019