Atopic eczema and stress

Atopic eczema and emotions

Atopic eczema and stress

Stress is not a cause of eczema, but an aggravating factor

Emotions, such as the stress of undergoing a review or pressure at work, can have an impact on your eczema. Although stress does not cause eczema, it is an aggravating factor.

What is stress exactly?

Stress refers to the body’s reactions, both emotional and physical, to a certain situation or stress factors.

It is usually triggered by “dangerous” situations that may require the individual to adapt.

Beyond Covid-19: how psychological support can help you live better with the disease

The Covid-19 epidemic has been anxiety-provoking. Feeling lost, fear of the illness, social isolation... the health crisis has given many of us new reasons to feel worried. But in addition to these external stress-inducing factors, suffering from atopic eczema is a difficult reality to live with on a daily basis: pain, judgment from others, lack of hope, loneliness, guilt, loss of interest, etc. This can result in constant stress which can worsen the eczema symptoms.

Although psychology is the subject of numerous misconceptions, support from a psychologist can help you determine what is happening deep down and better manage the various emotions linked to the disease.

Who to contact?

A number of resources are available to help patients experiencing psychological distress. In the context of Covid-19 specifically, you can reach out to a dedicated counseling unit or a nearby mental health center. Another option is to simply share how you are feeling with your loved ones or trusted co-workers.

In these exceptional times, there are plenty of ways to show solidarity; do not hesitate to reach out to others. If you are looking for more comprehensive support to help manage your eczema, you can contact the atopy schools. These institutions are specialized in treating this pathology. Their teams offer therapeutic education programs that include psychological and medical support.

Emotions and eczema: a case of chicken or the egg

It is true that psychological suffering tends to intensify eczema symptoms. However, stress does not cause eczema, but it can be an aggravating factor. Eczema has five aggravating factors:

  • Irritants
  • Allergies
  • Emotions
  • Microbes
  • Eczema itself: the more extensive the eczema, the more intense the symptoms

How does your psychological state affect your ability to manage the disease?

Erasing your emotions is impossible, but understanding them can help you gain some perspective and “get to a place” where you can take care of yourself. Having good self-esteem can make it easier for a patient to gain control over their health. Placebo/nocebo effects: several studies have shown how patients’ beliefs affect treatments and outcomes. The rate of this phenomenon is about 30% and can reach as high as 60% to 70% in some pathologies.

Do not under-estimate your power to heal or improve your condition!

Human beings are a whole entity comprised of the body, mind and energy. Diseases are triggered by an imbalance. In Chinese medicine, doctors refer to an “accumulation”, and everything starts in the mind...

Jean-Marc Chavigny

Professional support helps restore a psychological balance and boost the placebo effect.

How to find the motivation to take care of yourself

Several factors are critical to finding (or restoring) the motivation to take care of yourself:

  • Being in a state of change: improving self-esteem, identifying concrete life goals, etc.
  • Being supported: finding and receiving help from a capable resource person (caretaker or not), exploring approaches such as psycho-genealogy, psychotherapy, meditation, “forest bathing”, therapeutic make-up. 
  • Prioritizing changes in your life according to your rhythm: accepting challenges and the possibility of not succeeding on the first try (the Kaizen, or “small steps”, Theory).

Various workshops are offered at the Nantes atopy school to improve patients’ motivation:

  • Self-esteem workshops
  •  “Live better with your emotions” workshops
  • “Become the master of your own health” workshops, including practical exercises: Chanting and “forest bathing”, mindfulness (five senses, breathing) in the Gâvre Forest
  • Collaboration with integrative medicine professionals (energy specialists, acupuncturist, etc.)

Why do some people with eczema feel guilty?

Patient guilt

Due to the numerous misconceptions surrounding the causes of eczema, patients are often told that their problem is “all in their head”. As a result, they feel guilty of triggering the disease but without knowing how.

Parent guilt

Parents often feel guilty about bringing a child into the world who is suffering. With regard to genetics, eczema is a multi-factorial disease, so there is no reason for parents to feel guilty.


In conclusion

Understanding your disease is important to accepting its chronic nature and taking action to manage the condition. The psychological distress associated with eczema is normal and valid. Claims that the disease has no impact on the patient’s life is denying reality. Recognizing your emotions helps to accept this reality and is a significant step toward finding the motivation to care for yourself.

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