If you find that your eczema flares up right before a big presentation or in the middle of tax season, it’s no coincidence. Experts have known for years that stress can make the skin condition worse.
When you’re tense, your body tries to protect your skin by boosting inflammation there. If you already have it because of eczema, that boost will make your symptoms worse.
The key is to try to manage your stress. It might be one of the best ways to help keep your disease in check. Here are seven tips to get the tension in your life under control.
1. Get enough sleep.
A good night’s rest can lower your stress. But it’s not always easy to sleep when your skin is itchy. If eczema is keeping you up at night, talk with your doctor about how to get a better handle on your symptoms. You can try taking an antihistamine before bed. This type of medicine can ease itching, and it can make you sleepy.
2. Find support.
Your skin condition can add to your daily stress. You might feel like you just can’t get comfortable. It helps to talk with other people who have the same problem and know what you’re going through. They might even have advice on new things you can try to feel better. Look for support groups for eczema online or find one that meets in your community.
3. Learn to relax.
From deep breathing to yoga and guided imagery, there are many ways to wind down. What works for you may be different than what helps other people relax. So explore your options. You can try progressive relaxation or listening to a relaxation CD. Or take a few minutes each day to write about what you’re feeling. You can rip up the paper or delete the file when you’re done.
4. Get some exercise.
It’s one of the best stress-busters around. Whether you like walking, swimming, or playing tennis, exercise can make you feel better overall. But if sweat is a trigger for your eczema, take a cool or lukewarm shower soon after your workout to wash it off.
5. Talk about it.
If your stress comes from deeper problems with your marriage, family, or job, you may want to meet with a counselor or therapist. Sometimes just talking about your problems with someone can help. In some cases, a mental health professional can also prescribe medication that can help with stress and anxiety.
6. Do something you enjoy.
Whether it’s playing sports, reading a book, or going to church, doing something you like can take your mind off your stress and make you feel good.
7. Ask for help.
If you can’t seem to control your stress or your eczema, make an appointment with your doctor. She can talk to you about other treatments or support resources that can help.