The impacts of eczema go much deeper than the skin. This chronic skin condition impacts on a person’s physical, mental, and social wellbeing.
New research by Grahams Natural Alternatives explores how adults and children are affected not just physically but psychologically when suffering from common skin conditions like eczema. In fact, 7 out of 10 people with skin conditions feel self-conscious about their flare ups. The anxiety and stress that comes with dealing with eczema can trigger flare ups, which then creates more anxiety stress, which leads to MORE flare ups. So how do we break this vicious cycle?
It’s Eczema Awareness Week; and therefore an important opportunity to raise awareness of the skin condition and highlight the impact it can have on a person’s mental health. By doing so, we aim to help our fellow eczema warriors to embrace their skin condition, break down the boundaries eczema places on them, and ultimately live a healthier and happier life.
You are not alone
The difficult part with dealing with eczema is that there’s no easy fix, and at Grahams Natural, we never tell our customers we’re the “cure” for eczema. Although we receive customer success stories everyday from customers who swear by our products; what works for one person may not work for another. And unfortunately, even if you get your eczema under control, you may still have a flare up in the future. Yes, we know it stinks.
The best thing you can do is understand you’re not alone in this daily battle. There are around 100,000 Australians living with severe eczema who frequently experience flare ups. Overseas, even the most glamorous celebrities including Elle Fanning, Catherine Zeta Jones and Adele are living with this condition.
It’s not easy to cope with eczema. However, that shouldn’t stop you from living your best life. Learning to embrace your eczema begins with becoming more comfortable in your own skin. Here’s some ways you can slowly get there:
- Acceptance is key - the first step to becoming more comfortable in your skin is accepting you have a life-altering skin condition. Of course this is MUCH easier said than done. It may take a few months or years, but you’ll get there.
- Remember what you have - A shift in mindset is key. Tap into all the good things you have in life such as your friends, family, and so much more going for you! It might be a good idea to practice positive affirmations by keeping a journal.
- Practice self-care - skincare doesn’t need to be a chore! Better understanding your skin and mapping out your own personal self-care routine will not only improve your eczema, but also your mental wellbeing.
- Join the eczema community - we know sometimes people without eczema can seem a bit ignorant. You may have grown up hearing “just stop scratching!” or “is it contagious?”.Sometimes it’s good to talk to people who are in the same boat and understand what you’re going through. Whether through a Facebook group, an eczema convention, or online forum, start making friends with those who suffer from eczema.
Don’t Let Your Eczema Limit You!
When your body is not functioning at its prime, it’s only natural to feel stressed out. The key to managing our mental health is to overcome these initial stages of defeat and frustration and instead look at more positive ways we can learn to accept our skin. So how do you embrace life and find ways to do all things that bring you joy while also maintaining the health of your skin? You don’t want to stop doing all of your favourite activities for fear that you’re going to end up in an eczema flare.
ExerciseYes we know heat and sweat can sometimes leave your skin red, itchy and sensitive. But that doesn’t mean you should skip exercise! Physical activity can actually help your eczema in many ways including:
- Exercise lowers stress levels - one of the triggers of eczema flare ups
- Exercise makes your heart stronger and boosts your mood
- Exercise increases the blood flow closer to the skin’s surface, keeping it well-nourished and flushing out toxins from the cells
- Hydration is key - drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise to replace the water lost when exercising
- Wear light breathable clothing - it’s important to pay attention to the clothes you wear. Choose light, breathable and soft fabrics such as cotton that prevent the skin from getting too hot.
- Take regular breaks - give opportunities for your skin to cool down, rehydrate and recover, especially if you feel a flare up coming on. Listen to your body!
- Avoid hot showers - showering with hot water will cause your skin to become red, dehydrated and itchy. We always recommend keeping your showers lukewarm or cold (if you can handle it). Also, you can apply our Body & Bath Oil before or after a shower to create a hydrating protective barrier to your skin. Make sure to apply the C+ Eczema and Dermatitis Cream immediately after hopping out of the shower to lock in the moisture.
There is no singular ideal exercise for eczema and you may want to try a variety of exercise routines to figure out which are the least irritating to your skin. However, we do recommend exercising in controlled climates indoors if you are triggered by heat.
Improve Your Mental Health From Within
Studies have shown gut health is important for a variety of reasons, including your mood and mental health. People with eczema typically have an overactive immune system which responds to inflammation to a perceived threat. Inflammation is good for getting rid of harmful bacteria but too much inflammation can weaken the walls of the gut lining and create holes which we call a ‘leaky’ gut. Leaky gut may result in the depletion of serotonin and creation of toxic substances in the brain, that may result in psychiatric symptoms like anxiety and depression.
Our Mega Oil is targeted to treat gut issues with its 100% natural blend of Omega 3, 6 and 9 oils. It’s easy to include more essential oils and fatty acids to your diet as Mega Oil can be consumed straight from the bottle, or added to your favourite foods including pasta, yoghurt, fruit and vegetables.
Implement Relaxation Strategies
Improve your mental wellbeing by engaging in mindfulness behaviour. Trying things like yoga, meditation and distracting your mind through painting, drawing, or baking, can not only help you come in terms with our eczema, but can also help relieve some of the stress we find ourselves surrounded by.
Don’t Suffer In Silence
Your friends, family and members of your health care team can be amazing support! Know that you don’t have to be alone in this journey. Keeping communication open with those around you will allow others to better understand your condition; so you can work together to help manage your eczema. Also, it’s always nice to have a listening ear when things get tough.
For Your Little Ones
Children may not be fully aware of the reason for their eczema or even what it is, so it can be more challenging managing your child’s mental wellbeing when they have eczema. New research by Grahams Natural Alternatives found 1 in 3 people with skin conditions have been discriminated against including being socially excluded.
52% of parents who have children with skin conditions say their child is embarrassed of their skin condition. This differs with age as well; younger children are more likely to feel self-conscious with 70% of parents with infants under 5 reporting that their child struggles with their skin condition in this way compared to 56% for 5-15 years.
For children, the impact of eczema on their social development can be significant as it can affect their ability to enjoy sports, swimming, excursions, birthdays and even simply socialising with peers. In turn, this can cause a ripple effect to parents as they get stressed and frustrated watching their child suffer.
Therefore, it’s important to prepare your child for possible social issues.
Because of the visibility of the skin condition, some kids may experience teasing and bullying. This can negatively impact on a child’s self-consciousness, self-esteem and self-image. Parents should ask their children directly if they are being teased, bullied, excluded or hurt by others. Children often don’t often report bullying, unless they are directly asked. If you find it difficult to approach your child and create an open space for communication, it may be helpful to receive guidance from a qualified counselor or therapist.
When preparing your child for school, parents should do the following:
- Talk to the school about your child’s eczema and discuss options for decreasing the chance of flare ups while your child is at school
- Teach your child to be self-sufficient - demonstrate to them early how to keep their skin clean, moisturised and medicated. Depending on your child’s age, children should be taught how to apply their own creams and oils by themselves, or with the assistance of school staff
- Keep a self relief kit at the school; with a few essential items including the Baby Eczema Cream, Baby Body & Bath Oil and SunClear Sunscreen.