Survey reveals eczema has impact on sufferers mental health
National eczema awareness week runs from September 13-19.
A survey carried out by charity the National Eczema Society found that three-quarters of adults said eczema had negatively their impacted mental health.
The survey asked adults and parents of children with eczema a range of questions to get a better understanding of living day to day with the condition.
The results were unveiled as part of the charity's ‘unmasking eczema’ campaign during National Eczema Awareness Week.
More than 1000 people responded to this new survey, which was undertaken in collaboration with LEO Pharm and was conducted by the independent market research company Savanta ComRes.
It found that 89 per cent of adult respondents said that having eczema had significantly reduced their quality of life.
Nearly half said eczema had affected their education and 28 per cent reported it had had a negative impact on their career.
One in ten adult respondents said a romantic relationship had ended because of their eczema.
Brighton-based compamy Balmonds makes natural oils, creams and ointments for those prone to eczema, psoriasis, rosacea and chronic dry skin.
Looking at the connection between eczema and mental health is something it has recently focussed on with a number of guest blog posts about different issues from self-esteem to how it can impact your romantic relationships.
Simone Ivetts, who suffers from the condition said: “Having skin that is red, flaky, oozing etc. can make you feel very self conscious and really affect confidence.
“It can be hard to feel attractive when your skin condition is active and many of us just want to hide it away though this is not always possible, especially when it’s on the face.”
The British Skin Foundation says that ‘60 per cent of British people currently suffering from or have suffered with a skin disease at some point during their lifetime’.
The NHS website describes eczema as: ‘Atopic eczema (atopic dermatitis) is the most common form of eczema, a condition that causes the skin to become itchy, dry and cracked’.
Atopic eczema is more common in children, often developing before their first birthday. But it may also develop for the first time in adults.
It’s usually a long-term (chronic) condition, although it can improve significantly, or even clear completely, in some children as they get older.
Simone said: “Chronic skin conditions can cause anxiety about so many things, not least how it affects our ability to live our lives ‘normally’.”
The study by the National Eczema Society found that a quarter of children with eczema were reported to have low self-esteem, with many parents saying that the condition affected their child’s ability to make and maintain friendships.
Attendance and performance at school, feeling self-conscious, being bullied and not sleeping were other commonly cited concerns.
A third said they have to regularly cancel family activities or trips because of their child’s eczema, while one in five parents felt it had damaged their relationship with their other children.
Simone also talks about having the skin condition and its links to depression, and feeling isolated even into adulthood.
She said: “When you are in the middle of a flare up, it can be hard to feel that it will ever end and we will be well again.
“Having a condition that can be hugely restrictive on your whole life can cause depression at varying levels, including suicidal feelings.
“Numerous studies have shown that mental health issues are comorbid with skin conditions and should be considered alongside the physical complaint when diagnosing and treating.
“Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen, but it’s always worth talking to your GP. There can be a vicious cycle where stress causes flare ups, which lead to further anxiety and depression, and so on.”
Treatment for atopic eczema can help to relieve the symptoms and many cases improve over time.
The NHS website states: “Many different treatments can be used to control symptoms and manage eczema, including: self-care techniques, such as reducing scratching and avoiding triggers.
“Emollients (moisturising treatments) – used on a daily basis for dry skin.
“Topical corticosteroids – used to reduce swelling, redness and itching during flare-ups.”
Balmonds was founded by Natalie Balmond in 2002.
Natalie’s daughter Lula has the condition and Natalie spent hundred of pounds on different creams to find a solution to her daughter’s problem.
Natalie decided to take matters into her own hands and researched natural remedies and traditional ways of treating skin conditions.
“I was in my kitchen throwing in a bit of this and a bit of that but when I used it on Lula it started to work.“Then I had to work backwards to figure out how much I had used.”
Natalie explains how many creams have water and preservatives in which can irritate the skin.
“I decided to take all that out and only put good, natural things in.”
Skin Salvation contains a mixture of calendula, chickweed, nettle and chamomile, herbs which tackle the symptoms of eczema, and hemp seed oil, safflower and olive oil to nourish the skin.
Natalie said: “Beeswax holds them all together to create a seal on the skin and lock the moisture in.“Whereas the hemp oil delivers a huge amount of essential fatty acids to the skin, which is often what is missing in people with dry skin.”
What is important about the Skin Salvation is that it moisturises, protects and feeds the skin.
To help with your mental health Simone said: “Talk to other people you trust or those with similar experiences can be helpful, whether that’s online or in person
“Relaxation and mindfulness techniques, such as meditation, tai chi and walking in nature.
“Get help at work: talk to your boss or HR manager, and see whether there’s any support you are entitled to.
“Prioritise a good night’s sleep. Eat as well as possible, to feed your body as well as your mind.
“Also talk to your doctor about strategies for managing your mental health; they may be able to refer you for help.
“Know that you are not alone and there are lots of things that can improve your well-being.”
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