“It’s a changeable journey and one minute you could be feeling like the Queen of England, the next you’re not. At the end of the day it’s all about self-love and care.”
A key challenge for people living with eczema is the effect it can have on your mental well-being. Anxiety and stress are common triggers that can cause eczema to flare-up, which often results in a vicious cycle where the flare-up itself subsequently causes more stress. Eczema can also impact other aspects of your life, from an inability to work, stigma from colleagues or at school, or simply a lack of understanding and support from your family and peers. All these factors can have a marked effect on your mental health.
of patients felt that their skin condition had a direct impact on their mood
of patients admitted they felt depressed because of their skin condition
“She gets anxious; like if she’s walking round the shops she’ll get anxious because she’ll think somebody’s looking at her.”
- (Partner of atopic dermatitis patient),1
60% of male patients and 55% of female patients noted that their self-esteem and self-confidence was "frequently" or "very frequently" impacted due to their skin condition
Taking just a few minutes a day to focus on simple meditation may help to reduce any stress that you may be feeling. Listen to the mindfulness audio, and take a few minutes to focus on breathing and relaxation, before you carry on with the rest of your day.
Whilst it can be incredibly tough for your child living with atopic dermatitis (AD), it can also be a strain on the caregivers too, especially the long and interrupted night’s sleep when your child’s AD can seem particularly bad. A lack of sleep and challenges making plans that everyone in the family can enjoy may make it harder to maintain relationships and may lead to feelings of worry or hopelessness2. As a result of this, you the caregiver, may even experience higher-than-average levels of anxiety and depression2,3. Why not read our mental health top tips or follow the guided meditation below because it is fundamental that you look after yourself too.
Three adults in their 20s, Amara, Aramide and Zainab, were interviewed to give their experiences of living with eczema.
That’s where life hacks comes in. We’ve compiled real life hacks from real people, which they use day to day to manage their AD, keeping the itching at bay and helping to interrupt the itch-scratch cycle.
“In the past, living with a visible skin difference made me feel unnecessarily self-conscious.”
Zainab recounted how as a child, she felt the insults more deeply:
“I have been called a lot of names that have reptile connotations. At the time, it seems like a big deal when someone calls you a name. But when you’re young you can’t see ahead – you’re stuck in the moment.”
She acknowledged that the comments hurt, but wanted to remind others that with time things can and do get better, saying:
“In the grand scheme of things, you realise that your skin is such a small part of you. If [the bullies are] focussing on that then they miss all the other great things about you.”
It’s not just bullying that can affect your mental health, but by staying calm and stepping outside the situation you can gain control of your reaction to adverse events.
Aramide’s experience of travelling alone is an excellent example of this:
“In preparation for travelling, I put all my emollients and tablets in a small box, however when I went to get them after landing, I found that the cream had spilt over the tablets, making them unusable. I immediately had a meltdown in the airport.”
“I called my mum and sobbed uncontrollably down the phone. But I soon calmed myself down and realised that I was victimising myself. I was adamant that this experience wouldn’t break me, and so it didn’t. I think mind-set is really important with these things.”
While these experiences are understandably negative, Aramide, Amara and Zainab all stressed that most eczema-related scenarios that cause anxiety and fear can be overcome.
When your body and mind are tired from the physical manifestations of eczema, it’s so important that you prioritise your mental health. More crucially still is that what works for one person may not work for someone else – so find what works for you.
“It is important to be positive about yourself, focusing on more than your looks and thinking about your personality, your hobbies, your goals and your job.”
For some, that may be focussing on your best features.
“I think a good coping mechanism for self-esteem is writing down your best features and actually noticing them.”