Living with eczema and its symptoms may present various types of challenges, but there are ways to manage the condition so that you feel more comfortable and confident in your skin.
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, also called atopic dermatitis, typically begins in childhood but can affect people of all ages.
Aside from getting medical treatment for your skin symptoms, you can try many different strategies for navigating life with eczema. Here, we discuss several hacks or lifestyle changes to help you improve your life with eczema and love the skin you’re in.
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Eczema can affect more than your physical health. It may also affect your emotional, social, and mental health, as well as your self-image and self-esteem. One hack for becoming more comfortable in your skin and your life with eczema involves boosting your self-esteem through small, daily habits. Sometimes, working with a mental health professional may be helpful too.
MyEczemaTeam members often discuss the question of how to improve self-esteem. One member lamented the difficulties their 8-year-old son had: “He’s so frustrated, and his self-confidence is lowering because of his eczema!”
Another member described their own frustration. “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,” they 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.”
Building self-esteem is important for anyone, but since eczema can affect your feelings about your appearance, work on your confidence can be particularly important if you’re living with the condition. Some ways to build self-esteem with eczema include these:
Learning more about your type of eczema, including information on its common triggers, symptoms, and the best treatments and management techniques, may help you better understand and approach the challenges it poses. It may also help you to feel more empowered and prepared to ask questions during doctors’ appointments.
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 are the caregiver of a child with eczema, ask your health care provider to spend time with you and thoroughly discuss how best to manage the skin condition. There are also some great resources online, like articles on MyEczemaTeam, the National Eczema Association website, and the National Eczema Society website.
Itchiness is one of the most common and most bothersome symptoms of eczema. Living with eczema can be all about finding ways to reduce and manage itchy skin. One hack for doing so is to match your wardrobe to your sensitive skin.
Dressing comfortably with eczema involves avoiding fabric that causes itchiness. The most comfortable clothing for people with eczema is made from cotton, bamboo, or silk — materials that are 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 up during an eczema flare-up, even when you’re hot or uncomfortable. But studies show that self-acceptance — and acceptance of visible eczema symptoms — can help improve your quality of life.
Try the wardrobe challenge: Put on a piece of clothing you like but may feel self-conscious wearing. 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 dress in other pieces that you used to avoid.
Skin conditions like eczema can affect your mental health. Although your focus may be on clearing your skin and reducing other symptoms, it’s important to make time for your mental health. A simple way to check in with yourself and your mental health is through journaling about your experiences with eczema.
Journaling about your emotions has been shown to improve mental well-being. Writing can help you feel happier and healthier. Sharing your thoughts in blogs or on social networks can help you validate your feelings, gain support, and reduce concerns about stigma related to 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.
If you’re interested in therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and dynamic psychotherapy for adults have been shown to help people with eczema adhere to treatment plans and skin care routines, reduce disease severity, and sometimes even decrease itching and scratching. 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 deeper emotions.”
Undergoing psychotherapy is one way to improve your mental health. Many other complementary and alternative treatments and practices also can enhance your mood and well-being.
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 practices that have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety for people with eczema. These strategies include:
One MyEczemaTeam member shared their experience: “My flare-ups seem to be completely linked to stress! It’s tough to manage when common 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.
Taking an active role in your eczema care requires open communication with your doctors. Here are some steps you can take to advocate for yourself and ensure you receive the care you need to treat eczema effectively:
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 community or an in-person support group. Reach out to others like you on social networks such as 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 appreciation for the support they receive 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,” they 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.”
Which of these actions would you like to incorporate into your life? Select the actions below that you pledge to try, and see how many others on MyEczemaTeam are trying the same.
Comment below to share which hacks you’re going to try. By sharing your plan, you can gain support on the road to self-care and self-acceptance, while encouraging others to join you.
MyEczemaTeam is the social network for people with eczema and their loved ones. On MyEczemaTeam, more than 46,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with different types of eczema.
Are you living with eczema and taking steps to make your life better and keep your skin condition under control? Do you discuss your eczema flare-ups with friends and family or people on social media? What hacks or lifestyle changes have worked for you? Tell us in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.