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What is the Connection Between Eczema and Stress?

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  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2016
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Eczema and stress are often linked. Stress is widely acknowledged as a common trigger for bouts of eczema, an inherited form of inflammatory dermatitis. Stress isn't the only possible trigger for eczema. Other eczema triggers can include irritants or allergens in the environment, as well as humidity or temperature changes.

The skin condition known as eczema typically causes symptoms of itching, burning, and skin inflammation. The cheeks, forehead, forearms, legs, neck, and scalp are most often affected. Skin may become dry and flaky, or blisters and open sores may form. Scratching the eczema rashes can worsen scaling and crusting, and cause skin to grow thicker.

Most experts believe that eczema is a genetic condition, possibly related to an autoimmune response against the skin tissues. Patients often don't experience symptoms constantly, but instead experience symptom-free periods followed by eczema outbreaks. Allergic reactions to various substances can often play a large role in eczema outbreaks. Soaps, detergents, fragrances and even sweat can trigger an outbreak of eczema. Outbreaks of eczema can often be linked to stress, and for many, eczema and stress go hand in hand.

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Persons suffering from eczema are most likely to experience outbreaks during periods of high stress. Mental and emotional stress can have very real, and sometimes serious, physiological implications. Stress can elevate heart rate and blood pressure, and it can lead to muscle tension and affect mood. Chronic mental or emotional stress can contribute to a wide range of physical and mental disorders, including eczema.

While eczema and stress might be linked, sufferers of eczema can minimize their symptoms by practicing frequent and regular stress-relief techniques. Spending time with friends and loved ones can help reduce stress for the eczema sufferer, as can enjoying favorite activities and hobbies. Physical activities can help to relieve muscle tension and relieve stress, but intellectual pursuits can provide powerful stress-relief for those who enjoy them. Patients who suffer eczema and stress are often advised to combine proactive stress-relief with a healthy diet, appropriate sleep, adequate fluid intake and appropriate exercise, to help mitigate the physiological effects of stress. Successfully managing stress can help to relieve the often uncomfortable symptoms of eczema, while reducing reliance on steroid and other medications.

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