stress – eczema: how do they relate?

Eczema and stress: how do they relate?

Science has not fully explained the relationship between eczema and stress. However, it is known that such a relationship exists, and some hypotheses and lines of explanation can open the way to an in-depth understanding of the phenomenon.

Eczema and stress make up a problematic binomial for anyone. They are two health conditions that usually go hand in hand and feed each other back. It is, without a doubt, a very annoying combination for which there is no easy solution.

The skin is the largest organ in the body and one of the most easily reflected in the states of the mind. This is because the skin is directly related to the nervous system through sensitive terminals that send information to the brain and vice versa.

At the same time, stress causes a series of substances to be released that end up affecting the skin. This causes several anomalies, including eczema. As you can see, the relationship between eczema and stress is direct and very close.


The word eczema is a generic term for any inflammation of the skin. Such inflammation is classified as dermatitis, being atopic dermatitis that is generated by stress. In better terms, when we talk about eczema and stress, we are actually talking about atopic dermatitis and stress.

Eczema appears when the skin’s external protective barrier has suffered some damage. That’s when the inflammation arises; the skin looks red and itches in the affected area. It most often appears on the arms, knees, groin, and face.

In 85% of cases, the first episode of eczema occurs before five years of age. Likewise, it is estimated that up to 20% of children and between 1 and 2% of adults have suffered one of these episodes at some point in their lives. There are cases in which eczema becomes a chronic and recurrent disorder.

Stress and skin

There are several mechanisms by which stress influences the skin. Everything originates from the fact that stress modifies the functioning of the immune system. This leads to two effects: on the one hand, the skin defences decrease; on the other, the skin becomes inflamed.


Likewise, in stressful conditions, there is a higher production of adrenaline and corticosteroids. These act on the skin’s receptors and cause changes in them. On the other hand, it has been found that all inflammatory diseases tend to get worse with stress.

A Spanish Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (SEAIC) study found that at least 50% of people with atopic dermatitis also have bouts of depression and anxiety. They also pointed out that in recent years there has been an increase in cases of stress-associated eczema.

Keep reading: Diet for dermatitis: foods that heal your skin.

The relationship between eczema and stress

Stress affects the skin in many ways. It causes disorders ranging from urticaria to atopic dermatitis through acne, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, and rosacea. It is currently known that there is a relationship between eczema and stress, but that nexus is not yet fully understood.


As already noted, there is a direct connection between the nervous system and the skin. Also, eczema and stress work together to create a cycle that is hard to break out of. The presence of the disorder increases the level of stress, especially in social situations.

At the same time, as the level of stress increases, an increase in eczema can occur. All of this together causes much pain and makes people feel frustrated, scared, and hopeless. This is made worse because there is no definitive treatment for eczema.

Data to take into account

Stress eczema means a person is being put under a lot of stress and pressure they can’t handle. This is a warning sign that should not be overlooked. It means that there is a problem that has not been solved and that it exceeds the tools we have.

Even though the only way to treat stress eczema is to moisturize the affected areas, the best way to get rid of it is to deal with the cause: stress. The most advisable thing in these cases is to introduce some lifestyle changes.

Regular physical exercise is usually very effective in managing stress. Likewise, activities such as yoga or meditation practices are also highly recommended. It is advisable to consult with a psychologist, who can train us to manage stressful situations.

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