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Is Eczema Beating You Psychologically?

Aug 17, 2007
Atopic Dermatitis, which most people know as eczema, affects approximately 17 million people in America. The disease can be quite painful, inflamed, red, cracked or peeled, scaly, or have open sores.

Obviously, it is usually not very pretty. For this reason, patients often suffer from some emotional trauma because of the disease. This trauma is different for everybody and its severity is usually linked to other life events as well.

Many patients have intermittent depression which is apparent during flare ups, some patients may suffer a constant depression, and still others may not have depression at all. The keys to the emotional battle is to take charge of your life in as many ways as you can and learn to control your own stress in the times that you have no control over events.

The reason that so many patients exhibit depression during outbreaks is due to the physical appearance of the disease and other reactions to this. Family members can even add to this without thinking. You may feel like a spouse does not want to touch you (sometimes this is simply in your mind, however), you may notice family members looking at the eczema when they do not think you are looking.

Often you will encounter people outside your family who openly look at your disease with fear or disgust. One thing you need to keep in mind is that these outsiders do not know what disease you have, or if they do know, they may not know that it is not contagious.

The unknown tends to cause fear in others more than anything. This is much like a person who is afraid of spiders, not because they really fear the spider, but because they do not know how to recognize poisonous species. These people do not fear you, but they fear contagion.

To battle your emotional issues in connection with your eczema, there are a number of things you need to do. These things include:

Learn about your disease. You will feel better as you begin to understand your condition more and hearing about new research and treatments offers hope for the future of eczema patients.

Teach others about the disease. Your immediate family and closest friends should understand the disease nearly as well as you do in order for them to provide the support you need and for them to feel more comfortable around you during flare ups. Colleagues and acquaintances should have a good basic understanding.

They need to know that the disease is a combination of genetics and environmental triggers and that the disease is not contagious in any way. They need to know that certain vaccinations can be harmful to you so that they will be sure to let you know if they choose to take those vaccines.

Create a support network. This should consist of both immediate and extended family as well as friends and possibly a colleague or two. This way, no matter where you are, you can probably find a support buddy when you need one.

It is important to remember to divide the support as much as possible because leaning too much on one person for support can end up doing more harm than good, relying too heavily on one person can drive that person away. Your support network should understand eczema very well and it is your job to teach them about the disease. By understanding the particulars, they will be able to offer you much better support.

Join a support group made up of other patients with skin diseases. Ideally, this group would be one made up of eczema patients, but psychologically, patients with psoriasis often go through the same feelings that you do and are treated much the same by others as you are.

Find a good psychiatrist and psychologist (or licensed counselor). You may need anti depressants prescribed, either short term or long term depending on whether your depression intermittent or constant. It will take a psychiatrist to be able to prescribe this as a psychologist cannot. Psychologists or licensed counselors are excellent for being sounding boards and helping you figure out ways to cope with feelings, rather than simply medicating them.

Recognize and control stress. Stress management is critical in helping to avoid flare ups as well as helping you cope with your depression and day to day life.

Follow the care schedule for your disease. Not only will this help you keep flare ups to a minimum, but it will give you the chance to control your disease instead of it controlling you.
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