The Impact Of Eczema On Your Mental Health And How To Cope
Let’s get one thing straight - eczema sucks.
The dry skin, the itching, the sleepless nights and everything in between, takes an incredible toll onto your body.
But you know what? That’s only half the story. The impact eczema can have on your mental health and emotional well being is often overlooked, especially by those closest to you, but can have even greater consequences for your life.
And the worst bit - it can lead to a downward spiral that might seem impossible to break free from. You itch, you scratch, you stress - so you itch again. And the cycle continues.
This web of interlinking factors, as well as the long term effects on your mental health even after a flare up has passed, is what we want to focus on and try to support you with.
It’s tough, this whole eczema thing, and no one should have to go through it alone.
So in this article, you’ll find:
1) Is there a link between stress and eczema? And if so, what is it?
2) Symptoms of anxiety and depression
3) 5 tips on how to cope and ways to support yourself
4) Final thoughts
Let’s get to it :)
So, is there a link between stress and eczema? And if so, what is it?
In short - yes. Absolutely there is.
Anxiety and stress can be common triggers for eczema flare ups and even if they're not the root cause, they can most definitely exacerbate symptoms.
And this isn’t just guess work - there’s a scientific link which ties the two together.
When you enter a stressful situation, or there’s an undercurrent of tension in your life, your body slips into what we know as ‘flight or fight mode’ - something I’m sure you’ve heard of before.
When this happens, the body reacts by producing more of certain hormones - namely adrenaline and cortisol.
If you were in the jungle fighting off a saber tooth tiger - fantastic. But just after your morning coffee at work on a Tuesday - not so fantastic.
When the body continues to do this repeatedly and excess cortisol is produced, it can suppress the immune system and cause an inflammatory response in your skin.
And the story from there is frustratingly predictable. Your skin becomes inflamed, so you scratch, so it becomes more inflamed, and so the situation perpetuates.
Completely ridding your life of stress might not relieve your eczema completely, as there’s always many factors at play, but it can certainly go a long way in helping you take back control of your triggers.
Symptoms of anxiety and depression
If right now is a difficult time for you and you’re experiencing mental health problems in any form, the symptoms below are ones to look out for:
- Chronic fatigue or decreased energy
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of interest
- Feeling hopeless or pessimistic
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Muscle tension
- Grinding teeth
- Racing heart
- Difficulty concentrating
For many people living with eczema sometimes just looking in the mirror can be enough to spark a negative mental pattern. Especially mid flare up and if a rash has spread to your face, staying positive can be a real challenge.
It’s very important if you’re experiencing symptoms that you see a medical professional as soon as possible. Tell them how you’re feeling and if you need it, demand therapy, to have help working through and processing your emotions.
5 tips on how to cope
Seems simple - but so important. If you’re struggling with your mental health then please, talk to someone. Whether that’s a friend, a partner, a doctor, a family member or a therapist. Just talk. Sometimes it’s all that’s needed to relieve feelings of anxiety or tension.
2) Meditation and mindfulness
We know, the barrier to entry here seems high. But meditation has really caught on in the past few years across the West (thanks to apps like Headspace and Insight Timer) and it can be a fantastic way to calm your busy mind when it’s overrun with thoughts and feelings.
When you realise that actually, you are not your thoughts, and don’t have to associate with or listen to them, it’s powerful. This can then have dramatic consequences for your outlook on life and perception of the world around you.
A simple one - but not to be ignored. When you exercise the body releases hormones that can immediately lift your mood and snap you out of a negative spiral.
Swimming, running, cycling, lifting weights - pick your favourite and don’t hold back!
4) Get enough sleep
We get it - way easier said than done. Often night time brings itchy skin for eczema sufferers which can make it almost impossible to get a good night’s sleep.
Luckily for you our plant-based calming spray might be exactly what you’ve been missing!
Enriched with a blend of 3 Traditional Chinese Herbs used for 1000’s of years in Asian medicine, our natural ingredients work hard to hydrate and repair the skin barrier, fighting off symptoms of a flare up.
Itchy skin - be gone!
5) Identify your triggers
This is a big one and applies really to eczema in general. To get back control of your skin - you have to get control of your triggers.
The knock on effect? Less flare ups - and hopefully a more positive, happier you.
Eczema is not just a physical condition - it’s something that can impact every area of your life.
Stress, anxiety and your skin will be forever interlinked and it’s vital you take a holistic approach to the treatment of your mind and body.
We’re committed to raising awareness around the link between mental health and eczema, and want to help support those struggling anyway we can. That’s why we’ve pledged 3% of net profits to the Mental Health Foundation in the UK - to do just that.
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The yan-yee team
- How the flight or fight response works. (2019). Link
- Hannibal KE, et al. (2014). Chronic Stress, Cortisol Dysfunction, and Pain: A Psychoneuroendocrine Rationale for Stress Management in Pain Rehabilitation. Link
- Depression. (2018). Link
- What to know about anxiety. (2020). Link
- Eczema and emotional wellness. (n.d.). Link
- Depression and anxiety: How to identify and treat coexisting symptoms. (2018). Link