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Childhood Eczema and Stress: A Guide for Parents

Updated: Feb 1


SkinAkin Stress and Eczema Parent and Child

Atopic Eczema, the chronic skin condition affecting millions of children worldwide, presents unique challenges for both parents and their children.


Whilst the exact cause of childhood eczema remains uncertain, studies have increasingly shown a significant link between stress and eczema flare-ups. As parents, understanding this connection is pivotal in providing the best care and support for your child's eczema journey. In this guide, we will look into the relationship between stress and eczema in children, practical tools to identify stressors, and offer tips to alleviate the physical and emotional burden on your child.


The Stress Childhood Eczema Connection

Although eczema itself is not directly caused by stress, research suggests that stress can exacerbate existing symptoms and contribute to more frequent flare-ups. As well as contributing to inflammation throughout the body, stress hampers the skin’s ability to repair. Crucially, it also impacts on your child's wellbeing and mood, setting off the vicious circle shown below:


The Cycle of Stress and Eczema | Skinakin

When the body experiences stress, it triggers the release of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones can weaken the skin's protective barrier, reducing the skin's defenses and leading to to inflammation.


In children with eczema, this heightened stress response can manifest as increased itching and skin irritation, creating a vicious cycle of stress and eczema exacerbation.



Identifying Stressors in Your Child's Life


Children may not have the tools or words to communicate that they are stressed, anxious, or worried. Stress in children can show up as bad behaviour, being withdrawn, or avoiding tasks or events. This guide from Psychology Today explores how to explore the causes of stress or anxiety wiht your child. As parents, it is essential to help children explore thier emotions, identifying potential emotional stressors that may trigger or worsen eczema flare-ups.


Stressors can vary from one child to another, and pinpointing them requires careful observation and open communication. Some common emotional stressors that children with eczema may encounter include: bullying, peer pressure, tiredness, academic pressures, family dynamics, lifestyle changes, and environmental factors.


By recognizing these stressors, you can proactively address them and help your child build resilience and coping mechanisms, ultimately reducing their impact on eczema symptoms.


Practical Tips to Reduce Stress and Eczema Flare-Ups


Create a Calming Environment


Designating a calming and eczema-friendly space at home is a fundamental step in alleviating stress. Ensure that this space is free from potential triggers such as pet dander, dust, harsh fabrics, or irritants that could worsen eczema symptoms. This serene environment will serve as a safe retreat where your child can relax and unwind, reducing stress and promoting skin healing. Read our blog on managing eczema itching at night.


Encourage Open Communication


Effective communication is paramount in helping your child manage stress and eczema effectively. Create an open and supportive dialogue, allowing your child to express their feelings, worries, and frustrations freely. In the UK there are support groups like Eczema Outreach Scotland, or the National Eczema Society that can help give advice on coping with the emotional side of eczema. By providing a safe space to communicate, you can help them cope with emotions, reduce stress, and improve their emotional well-being.


Build their self esteem


Your child is not defined by their eczema and has unique gifts to offer the world. Help them to understand their unique strengths and capabilities. Help them focus on what they can offer, to value their own perspective, and to be proud of what they achieve everyday. We can also help them develop their own coping skills and ask 'What would you do to solve this problem?' instead of stepping in. This can build their sense of independence and strength over time, helping them cope with challenging situations.


Communicate with your dermatologist


Work closely with your child's dermatologist to ensure they understand what is working and what isn't for your child. If you aren't happy with any aspect of your treatment, make sure to communicate that with your healthcare provider. It can take time to find out what works, and to find a skincare routine that is right for your child. It can be dissapointing and stressful when treatments don't help however a consistent skincare routine is essential in managing eczema. Keeping things simple can often be best. Heave moisturising at night and wearing eczema friendly protective clothing like Skinakin's Eczema Relief Suit Range can help calm things down reduce skin damage from scratching. Consistency is key in maintaining healthy skin and mitigating the impact of stress on eczema symptoms.


Explore Stress-Relief Activities


Introducing stress-relief activities can significantly benefit your child's emotional well-being and indirectly impact eczema symptoms. Activities such as getting outdoors for fresh air and sunshine, deep breathing exercises, or engaging in creative outlets like art and music can help your child develop healthy coping mechanisms to manage stress effectively.


Seeking Professional Support


Despite our best efforts, stress may sometimes overwhelm your child, leading to persistent eczema flare-ups. In such cases, seeking professional support is crucial. There is growing recognition of the need to treat body and mind together to manage eczema, under the field of psychodermatology. Consult with your child's healthcare provider or a qualified therapist experienced in pediatric eczema and mental health. They can offer tailored strategies to manage stress, provide emotional support, and empower both you and your child throughout this journey.

Conclusion

Worry, Stress and Eczema, a quote by Corrie ten Boom

As parents, understanding the intricate link between stress and childhood eczema is paramount in providing holistic care. By identifying stressors, implementing stress-relief strategies, and maintaining a consistent skincare routine, you can significantly impact your child's well-being. Emphasizing emotional support and open communication will nurture resilience, equipping your child with the tools to navigate stress and eczema challenges with confidence.










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