Coping With Eczema

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Coping with eczema can be a challenge. While it is not a life threatening or dangerous medical illness, eczema is a skin condition that can interfere with your happiness and your quality of life. This condition can range from mild to severe and it can affect areas of your skin that are typically covered by clothes—or it can affect more visible parts of your body, such as your face and/or hands

In addition to getting medical treatment, there are a number of coping strategies that you can use to help alleviate some of the day-to-day problems associated with eczema. In fact, it may be easier to manage your condition with practical approaches than to take medicine.

Emotional 

Eczema can cause stress and it can also be exacerbated by stress. Additionally, eczema can make some people feel self-conscious about the appearance of their skin. You may develop a range of feelings, including anxiety, depression, or resentment as a result of your skin condition.

With severe eczema, it may seem exhausting to constantly focus on preventative strategies that other people do not have to worry about. This condition may certainly be a burden for you, but developing preventative routines can help ease the emotional strain of continually thinking about your skin health

Self Esteem

Your confidence may be affected by your eczema. If you feel that your skin is less attractive than you would like, or if you hesitate to wear clothes that reveal your skin rashes, your self-esteem may suffer. 

It’s important to remember that everyone is dealing with some physical or emotional issues in their own life. If “hiding” some areas of your skin helps you take the attention off of your eczema—that may help you focus on other things when you are at work or socializing. Eventually, as people get to know you, you might feel more comfortable if certain people see your eczema-affected skin.

The key is that you try to avoid isolating yourself, because isolation can make you feel that you are missing out on things that you want to do.

Isolation

Some people who have eczema may keep away from others as a way to avoid feeling like the center of attention or constantly having to explain things or answer questions. This can lead to social withdrawal, and it may affect your interactions with others in the workplace too.

If you are the only person in your workplace who has to wear gloves while working, you might feel distressed about being seen as weak, sickly, or more high-maintenance than your peers. And if your coworkers or friends are annoyed by the extra care that you are in need of, you could be feeling awkward about that. This can lead to isolation and avoidance of others.

Some ideas for avoiding isolation include:

  • Asking others about their medical or health issues to help them open up—when people know that you have eczema, they may feel more comfortable sharing their own issues with you
  • Finding makeup that does not exacerbate your skin condition so that you can use it in situations when you think it would be easier and better for you to cover up rather than explain the situation
  • Openly telling friends and coworkers that you have sensitive skin to avoid awkward silences or others’ concern about contagious infections

Each person may find their own effective ways to deal with these issues, and you might be able to figure out a technique that works best for you. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you are developing emotional turmoil as a result of your eczema. You may benefit from counseling, medication, and/or behavioral therapy.

Depression

Isolation and low self-esteem can lead to depression. This can happen especially if you don’t have the insight to recognize that your sadness is a reaction to living with eczema. If you feel that you are missing out on social activities or that you aren’t making friends, you can become depressed even if you caused these issues by deliberately avoiding people.

Depression is a serious condition that can lead to a downward spiral. It can manifest with sadness, tearfulness, overeating, loss of appetite, excessive sleepiness, and decreased motivation and energy. Talk to your doctor if you are feeling down—you can get better with treatment.

Anxiety

It is important that you determine whether your eczema is associated with any emotional triggers. While it is not possible to completely avoid all upsetting issues, you can use certain strategies to cover up an outbreak if you know that you will be getting into a situation that may worsen your eczema. 

Strategies for pre-emptively dealing with eczema that may develop due to emotional issues include:

  • Wearing clothes or makeup that covers the areas that are usually affected by your eczema if you think that a skin reaction may develop while you are in a difficult situation
  • Taking extra special care of your skin ahead of anticipated outbreaks 
  • Using medication that has worked for your eczema as a preventative approach before an outbreak occurs. Be sure to discuss this with your doctor in advance to make sure that it is a safe option for you.

Stress management techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, spirituality, building healthy relationships, managing toxic situations, and counseling can all play a major role in reducing the emotional triggers that worsen eczema.

If you are not self-conscious about your eczema, reaching out to someone who seems distressed by their own eczema can be enormously helpful. Keep that in mind because the condition is very common and others might not be as confident as you are.

Physical 

Besides medication, there are a number of techniques that can help you cope with eczema. Strategies include taking care of your skin, being mindful of your diet, exercising, and managing lifestyle risk factors. 

Taking care of your body when you have eczema involves several approaches, including: 

Avoid contact with skin irritants: If any product has caused you to have eczema in the past, there is a chance you can develop the condition if you come into contact with that product again. Triggers include detergents, soaps, hair or skin products, household cleaners, gardening products, and industrial chemicals.

Skin care: If you are prone to eczema, it is important that you keep your skin clean and adequately moisturized. But be sure to avoid moisturizing creams that cause itching or redness. And if you notice a reaction after applying a cream, wash the affected area thoroughly. Be sure to dry gently after cleansing.

Clothes: If you develop eczema in response to certain materials in clothes, blankets, or furniture, you can benefit from avoiding these materials. Make sure that you don’t wear clothes made out of the fabrics that irritate your skin. Keep a layer of gentle fabric between your skin and irritating materials in furniture to protect your skin. 

Diet: Certain foods can trigger eczema. If this has been a problem for you, reading ingredients and avoiding the problem foods can thwart skin reactions before they have a chance to occur. 

Sleep: For some people, exhaustion and lack of sleep can have an impact on eczema flare-ups. If this is the case for you, be sure to get enough rest and sleep, especially at times when you are exposed to your eczema triggers or when you want your skin to look its best. 

Temperature: Cold temperatures, hot temperatures, and sweating have been linked with eczema. Be sure to adjust your room temperature when you can. There will be many situations in which you will not be able to control your environmental temperature. It can help to be prepared by dressing in a way that keeps you adequately cool, but not too warm—to avoid a weather-associated skin reaction. Consider wearing layers so that you will be ready to adapt to a range of temperatures throughout the day.

Sunscreen: Sun exposure can cause eczema outbreaks for some people. If this has been your experience, sunscreen may help prevent your skin reaction. Be sure to select a sunscreen that does not worsen your eczema. Your doctor may suggest a brand for you to use.

Exercise: Many people find that exercise can help reduce anxiety and/or depression. The right type of exercise for you depends on your personality and physical fitness. Cardio, strength building, and/or meditation and balance exercises are all suitable options. You might find that a combination of these different exercise styles could be best for you. 

Social 

Eczema is not rare. Feeling isolated can be a problem, especially if you don’t know anyone who has had the condition. Meeting with others or finding a support group can help you deal with some of the emotional issues stemming from the condition—especially if it is causing you to have anxiety or depression. 

Support Groups

Support groups can be great resources for finding advice and tips about coping with your condition. You might learn about products that can help relieve your skin. Even more importantly, you may learn to avoid a product that causes skin irritation. 

Be careful when listening to advice, though. Eczema has some trademark features, but everyone’s condition is a little different. What works for one person might not work for you. You will also want to be sure that you don’t follow any advice that could cause you to experience harmful side effects.

If you want to try a new therapeutic approach based on advice from a support group, be sure to discuss it with your doctor.

Caregiving 

When you are taking care of a child or another loved one who has eczema, it is important that you pay attention to their skin care and help them avoid triggers. Your loved one might not be able to tell you that they were exposed to an irritant, especially if they have trouble communicating. It helps if you are on the lookout for exposure to new substances or other causes of skin problems. It may also help if you show them how to take care of their skin by gently drying with a non-abrasive towel. 

Tips such as helping them cover up affected areas of skin if you sense that they might be embarrassed can benefit their overall self-esteem and social interactions. 

Practical

Sometimes, collective responsibilities such as taking care of tasks at work, or cleaning and gardening at home can cause eczema. It is understandable that you or your colleagues, friends, or family may have some mixed feelings about the idea of dividing the work unequally to accommodate your eczema. Finding ways to show that you are carrying your weight can be an important part of coping with eczema.

Work 

Workplace exposures are a common eczema trigger. If this is a problem for you, you might be able to continue in your job and avoid eczema. Gloves, facemasks, or other protective covering can help protect your skin. If possible, see if you can talk to your medical team to get a prescription for any accommodations or devices that you need. 

In some instances, people need to make a serious change and find a new job that does not involve contact with materials that cause eczema.

Home 

Responsibilities that involve cleaning, gardening, and housework can trigger eczema for some people and not for others. This can lead to resentment between roommates or family members. It is worth the investment of time to shop around for products that you can use at home that do not exacerbate your eczema.

A Word From Verywell

Eczema is a common skin condition that affects many people. You may have more severe eczema at certain times in your life, and you might experience a major improvement at other times. If your eczema is physically uncomfortable or if it is visible to others, you might have a hard time coping.

Talk to your doctor about whether you need to use medication. Be sure to avoid triggers whenever you can. You might also benefit from learning about the condition and joining a support group (in person or online). Groups can help by sharing information about products that may trigger eczema, so you can avoid an outbreak. You might also learn about products that are less likely to cause a skin eruption, or ways to cover up when you need to.

Living with eczema can feel like a burden. Eczema may be problematic for you, but you can learn to cope so that the condition has less of an impact on your life.

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