All types of chronic and long-term skin diseases come with some negative psychological impact and eczema is definitely not an exception. This is quite inevitable since the skin is major component that makes up the outer appearance and other people judge health and beauty based on the quality of the skin.
There is also the fact that there is a widespread ignorance of the disease, forcing its sufferers to deal with mistaken anxieties and ill-informed comments, especially with people who falsely assume eczema is contagious.
Psychological Impact Of Eczema: Family Issues
If someone in the family or a child is afflicted with eczema, family issues may be strained. The skin is often rough, which can adversely affect the sense of touch resulting to limited cuddling and bonding with parents. Any inflamed skin can be irritating and sore, which can also affect the temperament of the sufferer. The application of treatment for eczema can also be a bit messy and time consuming, and all too often can be a source of conflict among child and parent.
There are also some children who have used their condition as a form of weapon in manipulating the parents. Often, children with eczema have also been shown to seek more attention, compared to other siblings who don’t have the same condition, which can distort the family dynamics.
Psychological Impact Of Eczema: A Burden During Growing Up Years
While eczema has been regarded as a common condition, it only affects a small fraction of the total population. Sufferers of eczema feel and look differently. For those dealing with severe cases, teasing and bullying is sometimes inevitable, which leads to social withdrawal, shyness, refusal to attend class and under-performance in academics.
As the child reaches teenage years, the physical appearance becomes increasingly important and the condition of the skin is regarded as the primary basis for attractiveness. This cracked, dry and chronically inflamed skin can be perceived as unattractive and disgusting, which triggers variety degrees of anxiety and depression.
People with eczema have been also known to spend several hours tossing and turning due to the excessive itchiness and the incessant urge to scratch. The lack of sleep can lead to fatigue and psychological distress.
Psychological Impact Of Eczema: A Lifelong Battle
According to Suzanne Johns, the official spokesperson of the National Eczema Society, all too often people with eczema refuse to go out and socialize. This is especially true for eczema that affects the facial areas. A social stigma is felt due to the fact that the condition makes them look and feel different.
In fact, in a survey conducted back in 1999 by the National Eczema Society reveals, 86% of the sufferers admitted to feel self-conscious and have greatly affected different aspects of their lives.
Psychological Impact Of Eczema: The Need To Treat The Whole Being
Eczema treatment should not be only geared towards treating the skin. A more holistic approach is greatly encouraged in order to also address the psychological impact of the disease. For one, stress has been known to trigger eczema, which is why parents with children who have eczema are encouraged to sit down and talk and get a better idea of the child’s state of mind. By taking time to discuss concerns, the simple gesture can give a therapeutic effect.
It is also important to recognize the early signs of anxiety or depression, in order to determine if professional intervention is required. The fact is, putting eczema aside as a mere skin disease can bring about more complications as the condition can be a root cause of social stigma.