Eczema

The Relationship Between Eczema and Stress

What is Eczema?

Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that results in red, dry itchy skin. Also referred to as dermatitis, eczema can result in skin bleeding and crusting over in the folds of the arms, back of the knees, wrists, and hands. If you’re experiencing these symptoms and are having a hard time distinguishing eczema vs dry skin, we cover that topic in detail.

What is Stress?

Stress is defined as “a feeling of emotional or physical tension.” Stress is a reaction to demand and can be positive. An example when stress can be positive is when you are given a short deadline at work. Your body begins to release hormones that kick your body into gear to meet the deadline. However, when feelings of stress last too long they can have harmful effects on your mental and physical well-being. 

 

How Does Stress Affect Eczema?

When your body becomes stressed and releases the stress hormones cortisol, and adrenaline, into the body, there is a physical response. When too much cortisol is released, this can suppress your immune system and cause an inflammatory response. As we know, eczema is an inflammatory skin disorder so when further inflammation occurs due to stress, eczema symptoms will be exacerbated and can cause an eczema outbreak. Stress-related dermatitis is very common. 

 

Additionally, because too much stress and cortisol can suppress the immune system, it can be more difficult for eczema to clear up. If you are already experiencing an eczema flareup, and become stressed, healing will take more time. One last major effect that stress can have on eczema is in pregnant women. If a pregnant woman suffers from eczema and experiences stress during her pregnancy, the infant is at a higher risk of also developing eczema in the first year of life. In fact, in general, it is common for children to experience eczema which is why we discuss eczema treatment for kids.

 

Co-Occurring Conditions with Eczema

Patients struggling with eczema also might be suffering from other mental and physical diseases that contribute to eczema flare-ups. Anxiety, depression, auto-immune diseases, asthma, hay fever, and a food allergy can all have a worsening impact on one’s eczema. Most of these conditions create chronic inflammation in the body, and when stressful events occur, they can be an eczema trigger.

 

Ways to Reduce Stress

The best way to reduce stress-related eczema is to reduce your stress levels. Keep in mind there are many different types of stress ranging from psychological stress, emotional stress, and chronic stress. Some of the best ways to reduce stress are to: 

  • Exercise.
    • Going for walks outdoors, a light jog, and yoga are all great options that will reduce your stress response levels and not overwork your body.
  • Meditate.
    • Using an app on your phone is a great place to start with meditation. Just ten minutes a day will help with stress.
  • Spend time with loved ones.
  • Get enough sleep every night.
    • Seven to eight hours is typically what an individual needs to function properly.
  • Stay hydrated.

Ways to Reduce Eczema


There are also many options you can take to reduce your eczema symptoms in general. First, visit your dermatologist so that they can properly diagnose you and perform tests to see what type of eczema you have and why you have eczema. There are many different types of eczema, some of which include atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, and seborrheic dermatitis. There are a variety of treatment options for eczema like

  • OTC Products
  • Bathing
  • Prescription Products – Many of these include topical creams with medications like corticosteroids, PDE4 inhibits, hydrocortisone, or topical calcineurin inhibitors to help relieve symptoms. Using hydrocortisone for eczema is a common practice and one that we explore in additional detail in our blog.
  • Light Therapy
  • Systemics
  • Biologics

In addition to treating your eczema treatment, if you are suffering from the other common co-occurring conditions such as anxiety, depression, or auto-immune diseases, you should schedule an appointment with your general doctor as well. They will be able to offer treatments for these conditions that will help not only help them, but eczema symptoms as well. If you have questions on eczema or any other skin conditions, do not hesitate to contact us today!

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