Prurigo Nodularis: Causes and Treatments

Prurigo nodularis (PN) is a condition in which hard lumps form on the skin. The lumps itch severely and as people scratch in desperation for relief, the nodules often start to bleed. This can lead to skin and blood infections. The itching is aggravated by a variety of triggers, such as sweat, heat, and chafing from clothing. People with PN often also suffer from eczema but it can also be exacerbated by certain immunodeficiencies.

What Causes Prurigo Nodularis?

There is no precise cause of PN, although scratching does make the symptoms worse. It can be hereditary. While scratching can lead to more nodules to form, the exact reason why the nodules itch is unknown. It occurs mostly in adults between ages 20 and 60. The appearance of the nodules and the itchiness can interfere in the person’s sleep and wellbeing.

What Are the Symptoms of PN?

The most noticeable symptom of prurigo nodularis is itchy, hard lumps on the skin. These lumps can range from quite small to about the size of a dime. Some people have just a few nodules, while others have hundreds. The nodules are most commonly found on the arms and shoulders, but may also appear on the legs, neck, and trunk of the body. In rare cases, they will appear on the hands and face. They may appear discolored from the skin around them and may scar as they heal.

How Is PN Treated?

Because there is no known cause for prurigo nodularis, treatment is designed to alleviate the symptoms as much as possible. Corticosteroid creams are often the first line of attack, but if those don’t work, other treatments may be considered. These include oral medications, like antihistamines, cryotherapy, or phototherapy.

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