Feeling comfortable in your skin can be challenging when you have eczema, but there are action steps you can take to improve self-confidence and self-esteem.
Eczema is a chronic skin disease that affects the skin barrier and causes dry, discolored, cracked, and itchy skin. During eczema flare-ups, skin can become inflamed or infected. Eczema typically begins in childhood, but it can affect people of all ages.
MyEczemaTeam members often grapple with the question of how to love their skin. One member lamented the difficulties her 8-year-old son had. “He's so frustrated, and his self-confidence is lowering because of his eczema!” she said.
Another member expressed her frustrations. “I have to renew my driver’s license and that means a picture. Having eczema on my face makes it very hard for me to want to do this,” she wrote. “I know there will be a lot of tears flowing later. The pic on my profile isn't recent. I haven't had the self-esteem to update it.”
Techniques for Building Self-Esteem and Self-Acceptance
Before you can take action to improve your self-confidence, it’s essential to work on your mindset. You may need help to break negative thought patterns — especially if you’re convinced you cannot live happily with eczema.
Educational strategies and psychotherapeutic treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, have been shown to help people with eczema improve their state of mind and their ability to manage the condition.
One study on parent and child education showed that nurse-led eczema education could significantly improve attitudes, change perspectives, and encourage positive habits. If you have eczema or you are the parent of a child with eczema, ask your health care provider to spend time with you and thoroughly discuss how best to manage the condition. Learning about the causes of eczema may help you better understand the challenges it poses and how to approach them.
Cognitive behavioral therapy and dynamic psychotherapy for adults have been shown to help people with eczema adhere to treatment plans and topical skin care, reduce disease severity, and even decrease itching and scratching in some people. Psychotherapy can also address fear and anxiety, and help improve quality of life. Talk to your dermatologist about referrals for psychotherapy, family therapy, or counseling to help you break negative habits.
“Depression is hard, and it’s a struggle to overcome it. I personally see a therapist, and usually, I just tell her what’s been going on,” said one MyEczemaTeam member. “When you talk to someone about what’s been going on, it can help relieve some more deep emotions.”
Four Action Steps for Taking Control of Your Health
The following actions can help you take concrete steps toward feeling better in your skin and having more control over your health and well-being.
Finding a comfortable wardrobe is partly a matter of avoiding fabric that causes itchiness. The most comfortable clothing for people with eczema is made from cotton, bamboo, or silk, which is less irritating to dry skin.
Sometimes the problem with clothes is less about fabric and more about feeling self-conscious when exposing skin. You may be inclined to cover your skin during an eczema flare, even when you feel hot or uncomfortable. But studies show that self-acceptance — and acceptance of visible eczema symptoms — leads to a higher quality of life.
Take the wardrobe challenge by wearing a piece of clothing you like but may feel self-conscious about. In warm weather, try wearing shorts, a short-sleeved top, or sandals, and see how you feel. Your skin may feel less irritated and cooler, and you may enjoy the experience of wearing something you’ve been wanting to wear. As you get used to wearing one item, you may find it easier to wear other items you enjoy.
Psychotherapy is one way to improve your mental health, but other complementary and alternative treatments and practices can enhance your self-care regimen. Stress has been shown to contribute to increased symptoms in a wide variety of inflammatory conditions, including eczema.
Take action to improve your emotional and mental well-being with simple practices that have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety for people with eczema. These include:
One MyEczemaTeam member shared her experience. “My flare-ups seem to be completely linked to stress! It’s tough to manage when the triggers are mentally linked. I found a little yoga helps keep my head clear and my skin!” You can learn more about these types of practices online, at wellness centers in your area, or through your health care team.
Another action step you can take for self-care is writing about your experiences with eczema. Journaling about your emotions has been shown to improve mental well-being and boost the immune system. Writing can help you feel happier and healthier. Sharing your writing on blogs or social networks can help you validate your feelings, gain support, and reduce any feelings of stigma about eczema.
“I try to journal as much as possible, especially when I'm having a bad time. It seems to relieve some frustration and can also act as a reference point with similar situations later on,” a MyEczemaTeam member said.
Taking an active role in your health care requires open communication with your doctors. Here are some steps you can take to be sure you receive the care you need.
You can also advocate for yourself in your personal life. Let friends and family members know how eczema affects you. You can give them educational materials or links to websites to help them better understand the condition. Be open about how you would like to be supported.
Connecting with a supportive community can help you overcome some of the psychosocial impacts of eczema that lead to feelings of social stigma and isolation. Take action by joining an online or in-person support group. Reach out to others like you on social networks like MyEczemaTeam.
“We are all different, so we will probably never find that one magic pill, cream, or solution that works for everyone. All we can do is the best we can and support each other,” wrote one MyEczemaTeam member.
One member expressed her appreciation for the support she receives at MyEczemaTeam by encouraging a new member: “Welcome to the group. So many positive people here. Great support teams too. Helpful information as well.”
Another member concurred. “I’m excited to feel supported through this journey most people don’t understand,” she said.
Many people feel better when they get involved in their communities as volunteers or by joining a group activity. “I find that attempting to stay busy and involved in activities which bring me joy is my best solution for the stress/eczema conundrum,” a MyEczemaTeam member wrote. “Of course, easier said than done. But I find that turning my focus toward others, or toward something fun or enjoyable, helps.”
Your Call to Action
Comment below to share which action step you’re going to take. By sharing your action steps, you can gain support on the road to self-care and self-acceptance, while encouraging others to join you.
Talk With Others Who Understand
MyEczemaTeam is the social network for people with eczema and their loved ones. On MyEczemaTeam, more than 43,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with eczema.
Are you living with eczema and taking steps to make your life better? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.