If you have been struggling with eczema, then it can be incredibly frustrating trying to find a solution that works. Eczema can cause intense itching and dryness that affects the quality of life for millions of people around the world. But did you know that stress could be contributing to your discomfort? Recent research has suggested that feeling stressed or anxious may in fact make eczema worse.
In this post we’ll examine how mental health issues like stress and anxiety can actually impact physical health, as well as explore ways to manage your symptoms should they flare up due to high levels of stress or anxiety. Keep reading for more on this important topic!
What is eczema?
Eczema is a chronic skin condition characterized by red, itchy patches of skin. It can develop anywhere on the body but is most commonly found on the arms and legs. Eczema flare-ups may be caused by exposure to allergens or irritants, temperature changes, stress, hormone fluctuations and diet.
The main symptom of eczema is intense itching, which can be very uncomfortable and even painful. Other symptoms of eczema may include:
- Dry, scaly or cracked skin
- Swelling or blistering
- Darker patches on the skin (called lichenification)
- Dark circles or bumps around the eyes
Can Stress Cause Eczema?
Many people with eczema have reported that their symptoms worsen when they are feeling stressed or anxious. In fact, research has suggested that stress can actually make eczema worse. It’s thought that this is because stress triggers a release of cortisol, a hormone that can cause the skin to become drier and itchier. This reaction is known as “psychosomatic pruritus”, which literally means “itchy skin caused by stress”.
Other research has also suggested that people with eczema are more likely to suffer from depression or anxiety than those without it. This likely contributes to the fact that people with eczema often report feeling more stressed or anxious than those without the condition.
Causes of Eczema:
Eczema is caused by a combination of factors, such as genetics, environmental triggers and lifestyle.
Genetics: Those who have a family history of eczema are more likely to develop it themselves.
Environmental Triggers: Certain substances in the environment can irritate or trigger an eczema flare-up. These include dust mites, pollen, pet dander and certain types of fabrics such as wool and synthetic fibres.
Lifestyle: Stress, lack of sleep, poor diet and excessive sweating can all contribute to eczema flare ups.
How to manage stress if you have eczema?
If you think your eczema symptoms are being caused by stress, then there are a few things you can do to help manage and reduce your symptoms.
First, it’s important to identify any triggers that may be causing or exacerbating your eczema flare-ups. Identifying these triggers can help you avoid them in the future, reducing the likelihood of a flare-up. It may also be helpful to keep a diary of your symptoms and triggers so that you can track what is causing them.
Second, it’s important to make sure you are taking good care of your skin. This includes using moisturizers or topical corticosteroids to help soothe the skin and reduce inflammation, as well as avoiding hot showers and baths that may dry out the skin.
Finally, it’s important to practice stress management techniques like deep breathing, mindfulness and yoga. Exercise can also be helpful as it can release endorphins that may help reduce stress levels.
How does stress affect eczema?
Stress can have a significant impact on the severity of eczema. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, your body releases hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline which can trigger an inflammatory response in the skin leading to itching or redness. Additionally, when people experience stress they may be less likely to follow their regular skincare routine which can further exacerbate skin issues.
Finally, stress can also cause people to scratch or pick at their skin in an attempt to relieve tension and discomfort, leading to further irritation, inflammation and even infection.
How to treat eczema?
Eczema can be managed through an integrative approach that includes both lifestyle modifications and medical treatment.
Lifestyle Modifications: To reduce the risk of flare-ups, it is important to avoid potential triggers as well as practice stress management techniques such as deep breathing or yoga. Additionally, it’s important to ensure you are keeping your skin properly moisturized and avoiding excessive exposure to hot showers or baths.
Medical Treatment: In some cases, medical treatment may be necessary to manage eczema symptoms. This can include topical corticosteroids, antihistamines, phototherapy or even immune-modulating drugs such as biologic agents. It’s important to speak with your doctor to determine the best treatment plan for you.
In conclusion, eczema can be a frustrating and uncomfortable condition that affects millions of people around the world. It’s important to remember that stress can play a major role in exacerbating eczema symptoms, so it is essential to make sure you are actively managing your stress levels through lifestyle modifications and medical treatment. It is also important to be aware of potential triggers that could worsen eczema symptoms, so it may be helpful to keep a diary or journal of your experiences with the condition in order to better identify them. With the right combination of lifestyle changes and medical treatment, people living with eczema can find relief and improve their quality of life.
The most important takeaway is: the key to managing eczema is to identify any triggers and practice good skin care, as well as incorporate stress management techniques and medical treatment if necessary. By doing so, people living with eczema can find relief from their symptoms and improve their quality of life.