How Stress Can Trigger Eczema, and How to Avoid a Flare-Up

The following tips may help you manage both your stress and eczema, and keep those flares minimal.

Mindful Meditation and Relaxation Practices for Stress

Research suggests that mindful meditation — especially regimens like mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) — can help alleviate psychological stress and improve emotional well-being.

Mindfulness meditation involves sitting comfortably; focusing on deep, steady breathing; and paying close attention to the present moment, particularly your own thoughts, emotions, and sensations.

Other complementary relaxation techniques include:

  • Light, graceful exercises, such as yoga, tai chi, or ballet
  • Acupuncture, a traditional Chinese medicine in which thin needles are inserted at specific points of the body
  • Distraction activities, such as writing, painting, video games, and knitting
  • Listening to soothing music or nature sounds

Lio says he typically introduces his patients to several of these techniques and asks which ones sound good to them. “Finding ways to relax and destress is critical,” he says. “Sometimes it takes a few tries to find the right fit for someone, but once found, it can make a tremendous impact.”

The Importance of Exercise for Stress Relief

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults living with a chronic condition get between 150 and 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking briskly, biking lightly, raking your yard, or mowing the lawn.

Alternatively, you could also meet your exercise requirement by getting 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity (or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity) aerobic exercise each week. Vigorous-intensity exercise includes running, hiking, playing soccer, or playing tennis singles.

The department of health also advises adults to practice strength training that activates a variety of muscles two times per week. These activities can also deepen breathing and relieve muscle tension. Just be sure to get clearance from your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine.

If sweat is a flare-up trigger for you, make sure to take a shower after exercising and change your clothes. Wear light, breathable fabrics while working out that don’t rub or scratch the skin. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise to stay hydrated. Be sure to take breaks during your workout if you sense an eczema flare coming on.

Sleeping Well When You Have Eczema

The itchy, uncomfortable skin associated with eczema can make sleeping difficult.

Lack of sleep can cause stress and worsen eczema symptoms, especially if sleeplessness occurs the night before an important activity, or if tiredness interferes with important activities during the day.

Research also shows that sleep loss, even if it occurs for just one night, can increase inflammation.

According to the National Eczema Association, these tips will help you get a better night’s sleep:

  • Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day.
  • Create a consistent, relaxing bedtime routine.
  • Stop using electronics 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime.
  • Limit caffeine intake after lunch.
  • Keep your bedroom dark, cool, and comfortable.

Better Support to Cope With the Stress of Eczema

Positive social relationships are important for physical and mental well-being.

Research suggests that social networks are just as important as diet and exercise throughout your whole life. Social isolation in adolescence, for instance, increases the risk of inflammation.

If you don’t have a strong group of friends or family that regularly provide emotional support, find an eczema support group.

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