Eczema and Stress: What Is The Connection Between The Two?

Eczema is a skin condition that is characterized by a dry and itchy skin. Often the itch can cause clear liquid to ooze out of the skin. The reasons behind the skin condition are numerous. What is important to understand here though is that stress is one of the factors that aggravate eczema.

Triggers That Worsen Eczema

Several factors can worsen eczema. They can encourage further itching and subsequent release of the clear liquid. Some of these trigger include:

  • Dry and cold climate such as during the winter
  • Overly dry skin
  • Sweat
  • Reactions to several foods such as milk, wheat, peanuts, nuts, tree, soy, eggs, and shellfish
  • Allergens like pollen, dust mites, mold, and pen dander
  • Bacterial, fungal, and viral infections
  • Irritants such as cigarette smoke, metals, fragrances, and fabric such as polyester and wool
  • Hormonal changes such as those in the days before menstruation and pregnancy

Stress is another factor that can aggravate eczema. This is how stress and eczema are associated:

Stress Induced by Eczema

External factors such as work or school can reach a finale of stress, which results in the worsening of eczema symptoms. Moreover, eczema flare-ups can themselves be stress-inducing. This, in turn, can worsen a person’s skin condition.

In a survey conducted by the National Eczema Association about half of the respondents confessed that they were disturbed by issues such as anxiety and poor sleep due to eczema. The skin condition also lessened their ability to focus on practicing self-improvement activities.

The inflammatory eczema responses can come to a crescendo of depression and anxiety. It can also tire a person and promote foggy thinking.

How Does Stress Worsen Eczema Flare-ups?

In the event of stress, the body shifts its gears into what is known as the flight or fight response. This response is also known by the name of stress response. As part of this, the body activates the HPA axis, which is a network the involves the pituitary gland, the hypothalamus, and the adrenal glands.

This network produces hormones. One of these hormones is the stress hormone, cortisol, which starts circulating in the bloodstream. Cortisol regulates the immune system and causes an imbalance in the different immune response types of the body. Ultimately, this culminates in increased cell signaling molecules, which encourage inflammation.

As part of this response, the immune system imbalance also leads to the release of immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies that cause allergic reactions. Consequently, the body experiences numerous physiological changes that impact your skin. For instance, the release of mast cells releases histamine.

Histamine, in turn, causes itchiness. On top of that, stress can dilate the blood vessels, which leads to further release of histamine. This culminates in greater itching, explaining how stress worsens eczema.

Bottom Line

All in all, it is crucial to control the stress that aggravates eczema. Research highlights that mindfulness meditation is one way to manage stress and improve emotional well-being. You can also try yoga, ballet, and other exercises.