According to the National Eczema Association, you may experience an eczema flare up once you are exposed to substances or conditions that cause dry skin and an allergic reaction. These factors include chemical irritants, food and environmental allergens, heat, sweating, skin infections and emotional stress.
Yup, you read it right. Stress can cause your eczema to worsen. Feelings of anger, embarrassment or frustration can cause skin flushing that could lead to itching. Of course, once your skin itches, you start to scratch, leading to skin irritation or a flare up.
Emotional stress also manifests through rapid breathing, tense muscles and sweating, which also has an adverse effect if you have eczema.
You must learn how to deal with stress to avoid stress-triggered flare ups. You must know how to cope with psychologically stressful situations as well as develop a certain discipline that will help you control your scratching behavior.
Combining stress management with lifestyle changes and medication may alleviate your skin condition. Here are some ways that you can manage stress and get relief from your symptoms.
1. Have a support group.
Having eczema in itself is already a reason to be stressed. The daily discomforts you experience can be so frustrating. You need someone to talk to about your condition. Reach out to other people who have the same problem as yours as they will understand your dilemma and help you cope with it. You have to let your frustrations off your chest since keeping it bottled inside will lead to emotional stress and a flare up. Eczema support groups can be found on the internet or in your community.
2. Get plenty of sleep.
Sleep is a wonderful de-stresser as it allows your body to recover. However, insomnia is something very common to those who have eczema as itchy skin makes sleep difficult. If you are having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor who may prescribe you antihistamines that will control itching as well as help you get a good night’s sleep.
3. Do relaxation techniques.
You have to learn to relax to avoid or minimize emotional reactions that could trigger a flare up. Meditation and guided imagery are good activities to try to help you wind down. Practicing deep breathing, listening to soothing music before bedtime, writing on a journal or reading a good book also helps. Doing yoga at home or enrolling in a class is also recommended.
This is one of the best stress busters you can do. Go brisk walking or running in the park, do the treadmill at home, take a swim or play tennis. Whatever form of exercise you choose, it will help reduce your stress. However, sweat can also trigger a flare up. To avoid this, it is best to take a cool or lukewarm shower soon after your activity to wash the sweat off your skin.
If none of the above tips can control your stress or eczema flare up, you may talk to your doctor for more advice on how to reduce your stress. Your doctor may also prescribe you medication and other options that will alleviate your skin problem.