Stress and Eczema: What Is the Relationship?

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Eczema, a condition that causes uncomfortably dry, itchy skin, is one of the most common chronic diseases worldwide. There is a cyclical connection between eczema and stress; stress can trigger or worsen eczema symptoms, and severe eczema can lower quality of life, contributing to mental illness and increased stress.

There is no cure for eczema, but there are ways to improve symptoms, including decreasing stress.

This article looks at the connection between stress and eczema, the risks, management options, and tips for preventing worsening symptoms.

Stressed-out woman laying in bed itching at eczema rash on arm

Kiwis / Getty Images

Connection Between Stress and Eczema

There is a direct correlation between stress and eczema symptoms. Severe eczema can impact a person's sleep, self-esteem, and mental well-being, often creating stress. Increased stress causes inflammation and decreases the effectiveness of the immune system. This worsens skin conditions and itching, creating a cycle in which each condition triggers the other.


Not only is severe eczema a risk factor for developing stress and mental illnesses like depression or anxiety, but stress or mental illness are also risk factors for worsening eczema.

Additional stressors that may worsen eczema symptoms include:

  • Living in an urban environment with increased pollutants
  • Prenatal stress
  • Limited social interaction
  • Hereditary factors
  • Weakened immune system

Management of Stress-Related Eczema

Managing eczema symptoms and stress can improve your quality of life and prevent other issues that stem from eczema, like hay fever or allergies.

Managing Eczema Symptoms to Reduce Stress

A healthcare provider can help identify environmental factors contributing to or worsening your eczema symptoms. By avoiding these triggers, you can reduce eczema flare-ups and eczema-related stress. Eczema triggers might include:

  • Common allergens, including pollen, mold, or foods
  • Extreme climate (heat or cold)
  • Skin irritants, like laundry detergents, perfumes, and soaps
  • Bacterial infection

Managing Stress Symptoms to Reduce Eczema

A good social support system, a healthy environment, and access to coping resources can decrease stress and improve eczema. Relaxation techniques can also reduce eczema symptoms.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which specifically focuses on stress management, can improve symptoms in people with eczema.


Stress management can help prevent eczema flare-ups. Stress management techniques could include:

  • Talking to a mental healthcare provider
  • Exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep
  • Spending time outdoors, both to reduce stress and limit your time exposed to indoor allergens
  • Limiting time spent in high heat, which can cause stress to the body and worsen eczema

Specific tools, such as eczema apps, also exist to help track triggers and symptoms.

About 75% of people with eczema say their symptoms are caused by stress or other psychosocial factors.


There is a strong evidence-based connection between stress and eczema. The relationship is cyclical, meaning that stress can trigger or worsen eczema, and eczema can create stress or mental health issues. Other risk factors for eczema include living in areas with high pollutants, having limited social interaction, hereditary factors, and a weakened immune system.

Though there is no cure for eczema, reducing stress and limiting exposure to specific products and elements that worsen eczema symptoms may help. Stress-management techniques, such as speaking with a mental healthcare provider, eating nutritiously, and exercising, can also help prevent eczema flare-ups.

A Word From Verywell

Eczema can bring feelings of self-consciousness, anxiety, isolation, stress, and depression. If your eczema is starting to affect your mental health, contact a mental healthcare provider to learn strategies to manage your stress effectively. Doing so could improve your well-being and clear up eczema symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can stress cause eczema?

    Stress can trigger or worsen eczema symptoms. Similarly, eczema can create stress, causing a cyclical relationship.

  • How can I get rid of anxiety-induced eczema?

    Though there is no cure for eczema, anxiety, stress, and other mental health problems can worsen symptoms. Reducing anxiety by learning coping mechanisms, working with a mental healthcare provider, or talking to your primary healthcare provider about anxiety medications can help you reduce your eczema flare-ups.

  • How long does stress eczema last?

    Stress-induced eczema can be acute (short term), lasting a few days or weeks, or chronic (long term), lasting months. The best way to lessen stress-induced eczema symptoms is to adopt coping techniques that reduce stress.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  3. Luschkova D, Zeiser K, Ludwig A, et al. Atopic eczema is an environmental disease. Allergol Select. 2021;5:244-250. doi:10.5414/ALX02258E