Eczema and Emotional Wellbeing

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Published on May 18, 2021

Eczema and Emotional Wellbeing

Photo of someone scratching a red rash on their armEczema is a chronic skin condition that can cause unpredictable flares, intense itching, swelling, cracking, or crusting on patches of skin. Eczema can affect many different aspects of a person’s lifestyle, such as work productivity and social activities, and put stress on relationships—all of which can affect emotional wellbeing.

A recent survey by the National Eczema Association revealed that more than 30% of people with atopic dermatitis, a condition that makes your skin red and itchy, were diagnosed with depression and/or anxiety. One explanation for why people with inflammatory skin diseases like eczema are more susceptible to mental health issues, is because of the way their bodies communicate with their brains during an inflammatory response.

When a person experiences a stressful situation, the body goes into fight-or-flight mode and responds by increasing production of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. But when the body produces too much cortisol, it can suppress the immune system and cause an inflammatory response in the skin. People living with skin diseases like eczema are particularly susceptible to this inflammatory response.

Although ridding your life of stress won’t eliminate eczema altogether, it will help alleviate some of the common symptoms of this disease. It’s good to be aware that atopic dermatitis and depression may be connected. Talk to your primary care physician or a mental health specialist if you are experiencing symptoms of depression. To find a PIH Health doctor, visit PIHHealth.org/Find-a-Doctor.

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.