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Can Stress Cause Eczema & Psoriasis?

Stress is the emotional reaction we feel when under pressure. This feeling could be influenced by a variety of factors in your life; it could be that work has been consistently demanding, or that an event in your personal life has affected you emotionally. It’s often personal and varies from person to person.

No matter the circumstances, it’s normal to feel stressed from time to time. However, too much stress not only affects your emotions, but can manifest itself in many more physical conditions, such as headaches, weakened immune system, IBS and insomnia.

But can stress also cause skin conditions to flare up? Put simply. Yes, and here’s how...

Stress is believed to spur on flare-ups in both eczema and psoriasis. This is because your body’s response to emotional stress is to release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol primes your body for a ‘fight or flight’ response, increasing your heart rate, tensing your muscles and quickening your breath. Another effect cortisol has on your body is inflammation, as your body hopes to heal any wounds you may have. It’s believed that in people with eczema and psoriasis, this increased inflammation affects the skin condition, resulting in a flare-up.

How to combat stress

It’s not easy – but there are steps you can take to help ease your stress levels.

Mindfulness: Spend half an hour every day doing something that calms you, whether that’s reading, guided meditation or taking a walk. Make the time for yourself, it’s important.

Sleep: Insufficient sleep can affect your stress levels. If you’re struggling to sleep, try a guided meditation, relaxation techniques before bed, and switching of electronics a couple of hours before bedtime.

Talk to someone: Speaking to people close to you can help to relieve stress, especially if you have people you can talk to about your worries.

Exercise: Although sweating can be uncomfortable for those with a skin condition, try some light exercise or movement which may help to relieve stress.

Work smarter: Prioritise the most important tasks in your day to avoid getting side-tracked.

If you feel overwhelmed by stress, or your skin condition, be sure to speak to your local pharmacist or GP for further guidance.

A short summary on Eczema and Psoriasis

Eczema and psoriasis are different conditions but can often be confused.

The most common type of eczema is atopic eczema. Atopic eczema can make your skin dry, itchy and appears red on lighter skin tones and grey or dark brown on darker skin tones. Those with the condition will often experience flare-ups to varying degrees, most commonly in the creases of the arms and legs, eyes, neck and behind the ears.

Psoriasis, on the other hand, often appears on the skin in raised red or purple marks and you can trace where the psoriasis starts and ends. The severity of psoriasis varies from person to person, but often the visibility of psoriasis marks can come and go.

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