How does Anxiety Make Hand Eczema Worse?
Eczema is a skin condition that causes rashes and intense itchiness. When the eczema symptoms become worse, this leads to eczema flare-ups. One of the areas where the eczema symptoms tend to worsen is the hands. Anxiety and stress are common triggers that cause hand eczema to flare-up. It is clear that there is an association between anxiety and eczema. However, there is little evidence for the processes that are responsible for this relationship. During a stressful situation, the body’s fight-or-flight response gets activated. This leads to the suppression of the immune system and activation of the inflammatory response. Patients with hand eczema had significantly higher scores in the HADS-Anxiety subscale.
The Never-Ending Cycle of Flare-ups
Hand eczema may continuously flare up if one does not find a way to control his or her anxiety. The anxiety or stress may be due to school, work, or one’s personal life. Continuously experiencing itchiness and soreness of the skin may lead to more anxiety and stress. This stress may then lead to more flare-ups. In a survey by the National Eczema Association from 2016, about fifty percent of the participants stated that they had symptoms of anxiety due to eczema. Many studies have found that the exact same chemical and cellular mechanisms that cause anxiety and stress also cause eczema. Relieving this stress will also directly help relieve the eczema symptoms.
During human interaction, a person’s hands are often one of the first body parts that are observed. The person can become self-conscious due to having hands filled with eczema sores. This may further make the person have body-image and self-esteem issues, increasing his or her anxiety when he or she has to meet people. Anxiety, related to having chronic hand eczema affects a person’s physical and social life. It affects the person’s ability to engage in activities that lead to self-improvement. Moreover, it begins impairing the person’s quality of life.
How to Prevent Anxiety-Related Flare-ups from Occurring
To prevent the flare-up cycle from repeating, one should find ways to relax in times of stress. Controlling the stress and anxiety will not completely cure hand eczema, but it will decrease the symptoms. Coming up with a routine of activities and exercises, that will help reduce the stress, will also lessen the intensity of the eczema symptoms. There is a large amount of research that suggests that the best way to reduce stress and anxiety is through mindful meditation. During mindful meditation, a person sits comfortably while focusing on deep, steady breathing and paying close attention to the present moment. The person pays attention, particularly to his or her own thoughts, emotions, and sensations. Mindfulness can help reduce inflammation and bring an improvement in the emotional wellbeing of the person.
Activities that Can Help Reduce Anxiety
Deep breathing – This involves the person taking a deep breath through his or her nose, holding it in for a few seconds, and breathing it out through his or her mouth. One can do it while listening to soothing music.
Light Exercise – This involves the person participating in exercises such as yoga, tai chi, or ballet.
Guided Imagery – This involves the person focusing on his or her thoughts and imagining himself or herself in a desired place or situation.
Distraction activities – This involves any type of activity that the person likes to participate in. This can help distract the person from anxiety and stress.