Managing Your Stress Levels
While there are many steps that you can take to soothe your skin during an eczema flare-up, it goes without saying that prevention is better than cure.
This means learning how to manage your stress levels and keep them well under control.
Does this sound impossible?
There are actually quite a few scientifically-proven ways to reduce stress.
Want to know what these are?
The first is exercising, and this needs to be done every single day in order for it to really have an effect.
Dont believe that a little exercise can really make such a big difference?
There are countless studies out there that prove this. In fact, recent studies have even shown that when you work on strengthening your muscles, this causes them to release enzymes that detoxify the body of the substances that stress and inflammation cause.
Exercise also encourages your brain to release endorphins, which are the feel-good chemicals that boost the mood.
Finally, just the repetitive motion that comes with exercise works in a similar way to meditation, calming the mind.
Even if you do not enjoy exercising, there are plenty of ways to get active that do not involve a sport or going to the gym. Try taking a brisk walk with a friend every evening, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or finding a hobby that involves you staying on your feet for a while.
Want to give this a try?
There are so many breathing exercises out there, but one of the most effective is the 4-7-8 method.
Here are the steps to follow:
Is There A Solution
Everyone experiences stress and each of us responds differently. The key to coping well is to focus on good stress management. This means prioritising the right tasks, delegating to others and being able to switch off from constantly worrying about whats coming next. Importantly, it also means making time to relax, have fun and practise self-care. This is especially important when you are going through major life events, such as moving house, getting married, starting a new job or studying for exams. The stress can build up unnoticed over weeks and months. People often say that big events like these trigger more severe eczema flares-ups, which are then harder than usual to manage because they come on top of the existing stress.
For many of us, the hardest aspect is learning to prioritise our own needs ahead of the needs of others. But taking time for yourself isnt an indulgence its essential, to avoid burnout.
Central And Peripheral Nervous System Responses To Stress
Atopic patients, including those with AD, respond to stress with suboptimal cortisol production . In accordance with that, atopic patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis showed attenuated cortisol responses to a standardized laboratory stressor test during an acute pollen season, but not during a pollen-free season . Moreover, infants of mothers who were stressed prenatally had exaggerated cortisol responses to stress . Increased HPA response to heel stick was observed in neonates with increased cord blood IgE or a positive family history of atopy. In addition, 912-year-old children with AD had a blunted cortisol response compared with age-matched controls when subjected to the psychological stress of public speaking .
Activation of the HPA axis by perceived stress and increased stress hormone levels has been reported to downregulate progesterone levels . An inverse relationship was shown between maternal progesterone levels during early pregnancy and subsequent risk for AD in the child . This association was exclusive to girls, as low levels of maternal progesterone were not associated with an altered risk for AD in boys. Maternal levels of estradiol during pregnancy were not associated with an altered risk for AD. A parental history of atopic disease further augmented the risk of AD in all children .
Also Check: How To Help Stress Incontinence
Also Check: How Does Samsung Watch Measure Stress
Lets Take A Look At The Science
It can help to understand whatâs going on in your body when you feel stressed, and how that affects your AD. Though this underlying link is not fully understood, itâs believed that people who feel stressed, especially in early childhood, may be more susceptible to developing AD.1Higher stress levels have been shown to change your immunity to allergic responses by altering the composition of the immune cells under the skin and the way they respond to particular allergens.1,3Increased stress is due to higher cortisol levels.1 These high cortisol levels can increase inflammation throughout the body, which can make your AD symptoms worse.1,4
What Types Of Eczema Are Linked To Stress
There are many types of eczema, the most common being atopic dermatitis. Atopic eczema runs in families and is linked with likelihood of developing asthma, hay fever and eczema. Other types include:
- contact dermatitis, which develops when allergens or irritants touch the skin
- nummular eczema , which forms round or oval patches
- pompholyx eczema , which starts with a burning sensation followed by a sudden dermatitis blister rash on hands and feet.
There are other forms, and we can also refer to eczema by the part of the body it affects . Regardless of the type, stress can exacerbate eczema symptoms you could see stress-related eczema on hands, for example. Stress is especially associated with triggering flare-ups of atopic, nummular and pompholyx eczema.
Controlling Stress Levels = Controlling Eczema
While stress does not directly cause eczema, people are most likely to suffer from flare-ups when stressed. Controlling your anxiety is unlikely to make eczema completely go away, but it may decrease some of the symptoms.
It starts with relaxation. Life doesnt revolve around just work and stress your physical and mental health thrives on rest. If possible, cut out anything that triggers stress. Relaxation strategies are helpful in overcoming stress. Try tensing one muscle at a time for 10 seconds, beginning with the left foot and working your way up.
Exercise is also important. Studies show that people who exercise regularly have reduced anxiety compared to those who dont. Also, exercise appears to encourage hormones and neurotransmitters, which dramatically improve your mood.
What Causes Eczema To Flare Up
Dealing with a condition that has such an ambiguous cause can be frustrating. But over time, and with help from your dermatologist, you can narrow down the type of eczema causing you trouble. And from there, it may be easier to identify and manage potential triggers.
No two people are alike. The same concept goes for triggers that can cause your eczema to flare up. But knowing what irritants affect your eczema can drastically affect how you approach treatment.
Some common triggers and irritants that can cause eczema to flare up include:
Chemicals in certain cleaning supplies
Perfumes, air fresheners, and scented candles
Other skin infections
Again, with so many possible trigger culprits, it may take time for you to truly identify whats causing your eczema to flare up. Just be patient, keep close records of your daily choices , and talk to your dermatologist. A proper diagnosis and process of elimination should help you identify and manage triggers and irritants.
Recommended Reading: How To Handle Stress Eating
You Have An Infection Or Serious Health Condition
Underlying health issues such as infections can trigger eczema flares, and swelling of the legs associated with congestive heart failure can result in itchy, red skin of the lower legs. Although the presence of eczema does not typically indicate an underlying concern, if your eczema is not responding to treatments as expected, it is best to bring it up with your dermatologist.
How Stress Can Cause Atopic Dermatitis Or Eczema Flare
Itâs a never-ending cycle. Youâre stressed and you get a flare-up. You get a flare-up and you get stressed. The fact is, anxiety and stress can often trigger AD flare-ups, making your itch even worse.1When youâre feeling stressed, even the smallest everyday task can feel like a mountain to climb. Whether itâs meeting with friends, working up the enthusiasm to exercise, feeling confident in certain situations or simply getting a good nightâs sleep, it can affect everything.2Of course, reading about stress doesnât sound all that relaxing. But we hope this page will help you feel a bit less, well, stressed about your stress!
Also Check: Can Stress Cause Shingles To Flare Up
Can Adults Develop Chronic Eczema
Yes, you can be diagnosed with eczema as an adult. There are even cases of people over the age of 60 who develop it, even if theyve never had symptoms before.
As an adult, going through your daily life with eczema can be challenging. Flares are different for everyone but typically are itchy, uncomfortable and can even be painful. Rubbing and scratching your itchy skin results in an itch-scratch cycle that can lead to lesions and thickened, leathery skin.
Adults with eczema may struggle with self-confidence issues due to feeling embarrassed about their skin appearance. You may also experience interruptions with your regular activities, such as sleeping or working. The effects of this chronic skin condition can cause excess stress and irritability.
Donât Miss: Does Weed Help With Stress
The Link Between Eczema And Stress
Dr. Mark Levenberg, FAAD, a Board-certified dermatologist, and Medical Director, US Medical Affairs, at Pfizer advises that “stress has been shown to have a scientific link, through a variety of mechanisms, to impact our immune system and skin barrier, which may contribute as an exacerbating factor to eczema.”
When you encounter a stressful situation, the body has a physiological reaction, often referred to as the ‘fight or flight’ response. Originally a survival mechanism, it can lead to the body reacting to every day stress such as work pressures or family problems. During this physiological response, stress hormones, like cortisol, are released. When released in large amounts , cortisol suppresses the immune system and increases inflammation throughout the body. This increase in inflammation extends to the skin worsening eczema symptoms.
Dr. Levenberg goes on to discuss the vicious cycle that stressors can cause. “Stressors are likely to affect our health in general, and skin in particular, in a variety of different ways. Different types of stressors can lead to other kinds of stress, as well. For example, eczema’s hallmark symptom is the itch, which may cause an individual to have difficulty sleeping, which could also contribute to anxiety, creating a vicious cycle of multiple stressors on a patient.”
Also Check: How To Eliminate Stress Sweat
When To See A Doctor
While most eczema can be managed, severe cases may require a visit to the dermatologist or an allergy specialist, and certain flare-ups may require further treatment.
If you experience symptoms for a prolonged period of time, if you develop new symptoms or worsening symptoms, or if your eczema is spreading to new places on your body, it may be time to visit the doctor.
If itching is severe or has caused an open wound, seek medical attention.
It is possible for eczema to cause a secondary infection of staphylococcus aureus, or a staph infection, which requires immediate medical attention.
A doctor may be able to prescribe an antibiotic to prevent an infection from developing on the open area of the skin.
What Causes Eczema To Flare Up And How Can It Be Treated
According to the National Eczema Association, nearly 30 million Americans have some type of eczema. However, sharing a condition in common with so many other people doesnt make it any less frustrating when a serious flare up threatens to derail your everyday life.
Though individual cases vary in severity, most people who have eczema suffer from red, dry, itchy, irritated skin during a flare. But what causes eczema to flare up? And from there what kind of treatment options are available? This article will provide a brief overview of the condition, some common irritants as well as popular, effective treatment solutions.
Don’t Miss: What Is Good For Stress Headaches
Tai Chi Can Help With Eczema
I hope you now know the connections between tai chi, stress and eczema. Stress is a common mental condition we cannot completely avoid but there are many ways to help minimize and manage it.
Tai chi exercises have been shown to be very helpful in improving our mental health. Common benefits including reducing stress and anxiety, as well as boosting our mood and energy make tai chi a valuable tool to combat eczema flare-ups.
For it to be effective, it is important we practice tai chi regularly and long term. So why not join a class? Find a suitable instructor online or in person. Many classes are available and can be accessed either online or locally. Sessions can range from being free, or paid for per session or on a monthly basis.
Thanks for reading my post. If you have any questions or comments then please do share them below.
You May Like: Can Coconut Oil Help Eczema
Children And Physical Activity
Its vital for kids to engage in regular physical activity for many reasons. Not only does exercise help children burn off energy, it also lends itself to healthy development of muscles and bones and helps kids maintain a healthy height to weight ratio.
In addition, hormonal development happens during sleep. A child requires a healthy sleep pattern for normal hormone development. Regular exercise has been found in studies to help to improve sleep.
Sports activities can help kids feel good about themselves. Participating in team sports helps to build healthy relationships with other kids. Setting and meeting goals can help kids feel a great sense of accomplishment.
You May Like: Does Stress Cause Weight Gain Or Loss
What Does The Science Say
Theres def a direct link between stress and eczema breakouts. Studies have found that stress can screw with the top layer of your skin . This can make you more vulnerable to allergens, bacteria, and irritants, and all those things can cause a flare-up.
Stress might also make it harder for your skin to bounce back after a flare-up. This means your symptoms can last longer which can increase your stress which can cause more flare-ups which can increase your stress The vicious cycle of stress and scratching continues.
Eczema isnt a one-size-fits-all kind of skin sitch. Symptoms and triggers can vary from person to person. Here are some common culprits.
What Does Eczema Look And Feel Like
Eczema flare-ups can affect any part of the skin, but the areas most commonly affected tend to be the face, the hands and the sensitive areas of skin around the joints, such as the back of the knees or inside the elbows.
Typically, eczema appears as patches of itchy and cracked, scaly or peeling skin that can feel rough to the touch, explains Dr McClymont. Sometimes the skin may also appear blistered, weepy, thickened, crusty, bumpy or swollen.
You May Like: Does Eczema Flare Up With Stress
Also Check: How To Help Someone Who Is Stressed At Work
When To Talk With Your Dermatologist
If you are having trouble figuring out whether your eczema flare ups are caused by stress or something else, make a call to your dermatologist for help and guidance.
Thanks to telemedicine, you can avoid a trip to the doctors office or hospital and simply take photographs of the areas of concern for discussion during your video visit.
Your dermatologist can also give you ideas for coping with stress in healthy ways such as moderate exercise, support groups, breathing exercises, and therapy.
Stress And The Skins Protective Barrier
Mentioned above are some of the indirect ways in which stress can cause eczema flare-ups, but it also does this in direct ways too.
Your skins protective barrier lies on the outer layer of your skin, and has three main jobs:
- Trapping water molecules into the skin, and preventing them from evaporating out
- Preventing the skins natural moisturizing compounds, such as amino acids and natural sugars, from leaching out of the skin
- Preventing unwanted substances from the environment from entering the skin
Research has shown that those with eczema also have a defect in their skin barrier. This is why the skin is so easily broken and damaged, meaning that irritants enter the skin more frequently and trigger eczema flare-ups.
If you already have eczema, then you likely already know this, and are probably wondering what this has to do with stress
Well, studies show that stress has a direct effect on the skins protective barrier, causing damage to this and preventing it from functioning optimally.
With the skins barrier already more compromised in those who suffer from eczema, causing more damage to the barrier is definitely not going to do your eczema any favors.
You May Like: How To Be Happier And Less Stressed
Resist The Urge To Scratch
Scratching can make eczema worse and eventually lead to dry, leathery and thickened skin. It may also leave you vulnerable to infection since its easier for bacteria to get into cracked skin, says Dr McClymont. Keep kids fingernails short and try putting mittens on their hands at night. A doctor might recommend antihistamines for a short time, as some types are sedating and can help your child sleep.
The Importance Of Exercise For Stress Relief
Alternatively, you could also meet your exercise requirement by getting 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise each week. Vigorous-intensity exercise includes running, hiking, playing soccer, or playing tennis singles.
Recommended Reading: Why Do I Get Stressed So Easily
What Is Eczema And Why Might It Occur
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a common allergic skin condition that usually starts in early childhood. The main symptom is itchy, dry skin.
If a person scratches the affected areas, their skin can become chafed and thickened, and red to purple discoloration may occur.
Experts have linked eczema to a leaky skin barrier, which allows water to escape and dry the skin. A person can inherit leaky skin or develop it due to their environment.
A protein called filaggrin is essential to the skins barrier. If someone lacks this protein or if it is faulty, it can cause moderate to severe eczema.
A person may also develop eczema due to contact with bacteria, pollen, detergents, soaps, and animal dander.
While stress can also trigger eczema, there are differences between stress-related eczema and a typical stress rash.
A stress rash usually appears in the form of itchy, rounded welts, or hives. Hives can appear anywhere on the body and vary in size. While they often disappear within 24 hours, a bout of hives can last up to 6 weeks.
Anxiety disorder may trigger flare-ups of eczema. It can be difficult for a person with anxiety to manage the condition without medication.
Having anxiety may produce physical symptoms, including eczema.
If a person has a family history of anxiety or depression, they may need to address these issues first before managing their eczema.