4 Ways to Cope with the Emotional Impact of Eczema
Defined as an autoimmune skin condition, eczema causes irritation, itchiness, and swelling on the skin when a person has an overactive immune system.
The bumps, redness, discolored rashes, and scaly patches can appear anywhere on the body, leaving nearly millions of adults and children struggling and uncomfortable. However, in addition to these visible symptoms, eczema also affects a person's mental health and emotional state.
In an article, the health website Medical News Today reported that "depression is more common in people with autoimmune conditions such as atopic dermatitis."
"Eczema and mental health conditions feed off each other, with eczema symptoms negatively impacting mental health and vice versa," the medical blog reported. "Stressful emotions or events may trigger the fight-or-flight response, thereby elevating stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol."
High cortisol levels can increase the oil production in the skin glands, leading to clogged pores, rashes, and breakouts. When that happens, people with eczema often find themselves frustrated with their self-image, embarrassed of their skin, and unable to enjoy certain clothes.
At Cottonique, we believe that understanding the relationship between eczema and mental health can help manage your symptoms better. If you're one of the many people who struggle with the emotional impacts of eczema, try these 4 coping mechanisms recommended by the Allergy & Asthma Network (AAN) to make positive changes to your skin condition.
1. DO SOMETHING YOU LOVE
Find stress-coping techniques that work for you by doing activities that fit your interests. Watch a movie, take a walk in your nearest park, listen to your favorite music genres, practice meditation, maintain regular exercise, or familiarize yourself with yoga.
Each of these activities can help reduce anxiety and depression. Doing aerobic exercise regularly also helps reduce tension, stabilize food, promote sleep, and improve self-esteem, contributing to the alleviation of eczema symptoms.
2. EMBRACE YOUR EMOTIONS
According to a survey conducted by the National Eczema Association, 30% of people with atopic dermatitis were diagnosed with depression or anxiety. They reported that people with eczema are more susceptible to mental health issues "because of the way their bodies communicate with their brains during an inflammatory response."
When you're feeling blue, it's valid to let out upper emotions, cry, and scream if you feel the need to do it. Eczema can be both physically painful and emotionally draining, so do whatever it takes so you don’t suppress those feelings. "The more you support yourself emotionally, the more you can cope with the challenges of eczema," said the AAN.
3. PRACTICE CONTENTMENT AND OPTIMISM
It's not beneficial for your mental health to dwell on things that you don't have control of. Little by little, try to let go of the negative things and thoughts by focusing on the positive aspect of your life.
The AAN recommends using visualizations, affirmations, and meditation. "These can all help you relax and reduce stress. Regular meditation can also help you control anxiety by redirecting your thoughts," it said.
4. SEEK OUT SUPPORT
Even though eczema affects more than 31 million Americans, others remain embarrassed and ashamed to talk about their skin condition. In the fight against discomfort, surround yourself with people who deal with the same problem and know what you're going through.
May it be in real life or a virtual platform, participate in a support group where everyone can share their frustrations, exchange tips for coping with eczema and offer messages of encouragement to others. If you're looking for support groups, the NEA offers an online community of people with eczema that regularly shares their experiences and gives messages of support and hope. To know more and join the said support group, visit this link.
TAKEAWAY: Dealing with eczema is both a physical and emotional battle. As the itch exacerbates, so do the accompanying stress and anxiety. If your problems stem from your marriage, family relations, or work, you may want to consider meeting with a therapist who specializes in "psychodermatology."
Psychodermatology, a new type of therapy specifically for people with skin conditions, focuses on the psychological issues involved in skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema. To know more about this field of psychology, read this health article.
This October, let us encourage everyone to raise awareness on eczema and enlighten others on the true impact of this skin condition. Also, read our related blog: The 5 Real Costs of Eczema
DISCLAIMER: The information presented on Cottonique is not, and will never be, intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content materials found on this site, from text, treatments, outcomes, charts, graphics, photographs, and study findings, are created and published for general informational purposes only. It should not, in any way, be construed as a standard of care to be followed by a user of the website.
Thus, readers are encouraged to verify any information obtained from this website with other accurate references and review all information regarding any medical condition or treatment with their physician. As Cottonique strives to help those with allergies live with better days, the hypoallergenic apparel brand encourages everyone to always seek the advice of their physician or other qualified health providers with any questions they may have regarding a medical condition.