Stress and skin health does not go well together and eczema is one of its manifestations. Too much stress on a daily basis predisposes a person to eczema.
The fact that stress is an inevitable part of today’s hectic lifestyle is undisputed. Meeting job deadlines, dealing with a nagging boss, unexpected layoffs or overcoming a failed relationship. We are no stranger to these situations, which leave us stressed up. Headaches, insomnia, heart problems and emotional disorders like depression and anxiety are some of the proven ill effects of stress. But did you know that uncontrolled stress can induce and even worsen skin problems like eczema. Read ahead…
Eczema is a term used to describe skin problems that are typically marked by redness and inflammation of the outermost layer of the skin. An itchy rash develops in the affected area of the skin. Eczema usually strikes the hand, thighs and the knees. The skin that shows the blistered rash may crack, turn flaky and even bleed. Although there are a number of factors that cause and aggravate eczema, most of us are unaware about stress induced eczema. In fact, there were very few takers for this theory that stress is a major culprit in causing eczema until research evidently proved it.
About Stress Induced Eczema
Eczema has often been associated with allergic reaction to skin irritants. Exposure to harsh soaps or cosmetic products is said to be the most common triggers of eczema. The immune system overreacting to certain substances that are not harmful can also lead to the development of eczema. Various studies have proved that this unexpected immune response has been linked to high levels of mental stress. Even the onset of skin problems like acne and psoriasis have also been attributed to unmanaged stress.
Studies did prove damaging effects of stress on the skin. A careful analysis of skin of people under high stress revealed that the texture of the topmost layer of the skin did not remain normal. As we all know, the outermost layer of the skin contains a lipid barrier that prevents bacteria and other microbes from entering into the skin. The lipid also lies in the gap that is left between the skin cells. The presence of lipid in this intercellular space is crucial to trap moisture and prevent skin from becoming dry. However, in a stressful situation the cell size reduces drastically. As a result, the lipids that fill the spaces between skin cells eventually disappear. This gives a perfect opportunity for the bacteria to colonize the uppermost layer of the skin and they subsequently spread to the inner layers. The microbes then release a specific type of protein that triggers an immune response, eventually causing eczema.
Application of mild to moderate strength corticosteroid creams often works to reduce the inflammation of the skin. Use of over-the-counter antihistamines is also effective to get relief from the itchy sensation. Petroleum based products can also help to reduce eczema symptoms. For best results, apply petroleum jelly a few minutes after taking a bath. This helps to keep the skin away from dryness throughout the day. Avoiding use of hot bath water and skin irritants is equally important to prevent eczema flare ups.
Although there are different prescription medications to heal eczema, one should first target the underlying cause, which is nothing but stress. You need to find out ways to de-stress yourself. Don’t let stress get the better of you, otherwise recommended eczema treatment will have little effect in reducing this skin problem. No doubt stress is unavoidable but managing it effectively is necessary so as to prevent its ill effects on the skin. Incorporating relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga (pranayama) into your day-to-day routine can fine-tune the mind to enable you to deal with stress in a better way. Once, you are able to handle stress efficiently, it will ensure that you do not succumb to skin problems and the beauty of your skin is not damaged due to stress.