Eczema and Stress
Stress is a key factor listed under the causes and/or triggers of eczema. It may come as a surprise to some that stress may cause skin problems and other severe, chronic ailments.
While, no exact cause has been deduced so far for the occurrence of eczema, it is often linked to the genetic factors and believed to worsen due to stress. Also, stress delays the process of wound healing. The supporting theory suggests that the stress has detrimental effect on the immune system, thus, making it weak.
What is Stress?
The term “stress”, was coined by Hans Selye in 1936. Selye defined it as
“the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change”.
The definition for ‘Stress’ may differ accordingly but an explanation suggested by Elliot and Eisdorfer lists five types of stress. These five types of stress are termed as an acute time limited stressors, brief naturalistic stressors, stressful event sequence, chronic stressors, and distant stressors.
- Acute time limited stressors refer to a short term problem
- The brief naturalistic stressors mark a normal event that is otherwise challenging.
- Stressful event sequences are the challenges that occur on a repeated basis and affect the near future.
- Chronic stressors are stressors that involve a state where the individual is exposed to a long-term challenge.
- Distant stressor relates to the one that isn’t immediate.
What are the Symptoms of Stress induced eczema?
Chronic stress often tends to decline the body’s natural defenses. This leads to a variety of visible symptoms, including:
- Skin conditions
- General aches and pains
- Bruxism – excessive grinding of the teeth and clenching of the jaw
- Indigestion or acid reflex
- Increase or loss of appetite
- Muscle tension in neck, face or shoulders
- Problem in sleeping
- Racing heart
- Cold and sweaty palms
- Weight gain or loss
- Upset stomach
- Difficulties in sex life
What are the effects of Stress on Eczema?
In general, stress triggers hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, that stimulate, accelerate the heartbeat, thus, increasing the circulation of blood throughout an individual’s body. This results in an excessive utilization of fats and sugar to acquire quick energy, focusing attention, strengthening of the muscles and more. The stress response is often termed as a fight-or-flight-response. Such a response is automatic and it prepares an individual to deal with the threat.
How Stress may Trigger Eczema?
When considering the relation between stress and eczema, it has been suggested that stress results in a spike in the hormone cortisol. When cortisol (stress hormone) is produced in an excessive amount because of stress, the skin tends to become abnormally oily. As a result, you may encounter an eczema outbreak.
A study also suggests that stress affects skin conditions (during eczema) and increases the time required for the skin to recover from irritation and skin damage. Stress can not only trigger eczema but may also result in chronic eczema flare-ups that can leave an individual more stressed. This often forms an apparently endless cycle.
Related: 9 Home Remedies to Prevent Flare-ups
Another study revealed that the stress during pregnancy may increase the risk of eczema outbreaks in infants. The study included approximately 900 mothers, their children and analyzed their stress levels during their pregnancy stage. It was reported that women with a high anxiety levels during their pregnancy increased their infant’s chances of developing eczema, when they were between 6 and 8 months old.
In case of those with eczema, stress leaves an adverse impact on the immune system. As a result, the process of wound healing is badly affected and becomes slow. The immune system fails to induce a quick response to repair the tissues.
7 Ways to Manage Your Stress to Tackle the Symptoms of Eczema:
Managing stress is an effective way to tackle the symptoms of eczema. As, the effects of stress on eczema are not immediate and build up over time, implementing certain steps can help manage it well. You can also follow these suggested ways to relieve stress in children with eczema.
The following are few measures that may help you to deal with Stress-related Eczema Symptoms:
Determine the Symptoms.
Consider the response generated by your body against stress. Symptoms like difficulty in sleeping, substance-abuse and/or increased alcohol intake, being short-tempered, feeling depressed and having low energy may be an indication of stress.
Consult Your Doctor or Healthcare Provider.
It is necessary you talk to your doctor regarding the recent symptoms and get a proper, required health care for the health concern.
Ensure to exercise on a daily basis to help reduce stress and boost your mood. You may prefer and initiate with taking a walk for 30 minutes on a daily basis.
Try a Relaxing Activity.
Explore and seek programs/activities that may be beneficial in coping up with a stress. You may start with meditation, yoga, tai chi, or other gentle exercises. Such activities are advised in addition to the other treatments implemented to manage certain stress related eczema conditions. Apart from relieving you from stress, such relaxing activities will help keep the body and mind healthy.
Set your Aim and Priorities for life.
It is necessary that you are aware of what you wish to achieve at the moment and what can be kept on hold. Additionally, if a task puts excessive burden on you, learn to share that burden with others in the team instead of creating stress and pressurizing the mind.
You must stay close with your friends and family to get an emotional and other support. To reduce stress, seek help from those who can be supportive in your bad times.
You can learn to manage eczema and keep it at bay from outbreaks by understanding the factors that cause stress and how they are related to your eczema.
However, as stress alone is not responsible for the occurrence, worsening of eczema symptoms, ensure to adopt the required treatments and lifestyle changes.
Studies related to eczema and stress:
- “Psychoneuroimmunology of Psychological Stress and Atopic Dermatitis: Pathophysiologic and Therapeutic Updates”
Ref source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3704139/
- “Stress in mothers of young children with eczema”
Ref source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2083902/