Impact of Stress on Eczema

Atopic dermatitis, atopic eczema or simply eczema is a chronic medical condition that affects the skin. This condition often causes the skin to become affected with various conditions including redness, itching, dryness, swelling, cracking and irritation. Eczema can affect both the young and old, no matter what age. It may be caused by specific things such as exposure to allergens like metal or irritants such as detergents. Other times, the exact reason for this skin problem is not clear. However, one thing that is apparent is that certain things can aggravate eczema, including stress.

According to several studies, stress can worsen the symptoms of eczema due to the correlation of the two. For starters, eczema is a skin inflammation brought about by the auto-immune reaction against skin cells by the body. During times when stress is experienced by an individual the brain detects this and the body begins an inflammation process. This occurrence is the body’s way of protecting itself by way of the immune system. It aims to eliminate any harmful foreign bodies in the system as it heals itself. However, in the case of eczema the inflammation in the skin becomes worse because of this process.

Although stress does not directly cause this chronic skin condition, it may prevent healing as it intensifies the symptoms. The best way to deal with the impact of stress on eczema is by managing it. A few things that can be done include:

  • Relaxing – One of the best ways to easing the pressure from everyday life includes unwinding. This process does not have to be costly or lavish. Simply sitting down and listening to some music, taking a hot shower or even just getting some peace and quiet can ease away the stress of the day.  Doing something you enjoy also helps.
  • Resting – Not being able to get enough sleep at night can actually add to daily stress. Lack of sleep prevents a person from functioning properly and productively leading to problems. By getting the right amount of sleep it makes it possible to be more efficient which results in less stress. Try to get at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
  • Exercising – Getting up and about is not just a good way to keep the body physically fit. It is a great way to keep the mind fit as well. Exercising helps the brain release happy hormones which are great for combating  pressure from daily activities. Exercising can be done in a number of ways including walking and even housework.
  • Cope – Many times the best way to deal with stress is to learn how to cope with it. There are a number of techniques that can be used to do this. One quick and easy coping method is meditation. When the pressure starts to build up, take the time to sit back and think of positive things and other thoughts that will bring peace. Breathing exercises can also lower stress as the brain signals the body to keep calm.


“A peek inside the field of psychodermatology” Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 2013;157(12):A5659.

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MD with a great interest in skin diseases, mental health and physical training.

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