My Experience with Eczema and Mental Health
In my experience, eczema and mental health can be linked. In my early to mid-20s, I enjoyed wearing makeup and scented lotions. I didn't think much about the chemicals in these products because there didn't appear to be a reason for concern. But when I was 27, I developed painful eczema rashes that changed my perception of chemicals and mental health. To learn about my experience with eczema and how it affected my mental health, continue reading this post.
What Is Eczema?
The National Eczema Association defines eczema as a group of inflammatory skin conditions that cause dry and itchy skin, rashes, patches, and infections.1 Eczema can develop at any age. It has many potential causes, such as genetics, environment, stress, and an overactive immune system. Many people also develop eczema after being exposed to allergens such as chemicals and fragrances.
The First Few Bites of Eczema
The first time I became concerned about my skin was during my job cleaning tables at a restaurant in 2017. Several months after starting the job, I developed red, itchy rashes on my hands. One day, I started getting very painful rashes on my right thigh. The rashes on my thigh were the same shape as the lining of my pants pockets. Apparently, I had a habit of putting sanitizing wipes in my pockets after I finished using them. Even though they were mostly dry, the chemicals seeped through the lining and attacked my skin.
After I started wearing gloves and storing my wipes in an apron, the rashes began to fade. But that was just a touch of what would be an excruciating eczema journey.
Eczema Affects My Mental Health and Self-Esteem
In the spring of 2018, I started making lemonade with the juicer at work. On the first day, the lemon juice splattered on my face. The next day, my face had a slight rash. At first, it didn't seem like a big deal. I thought it was caused by stress from adjusting to a new work schedule.
But during the rest of the week, the rashes became larger and more painful. My face started to burn, and my skin peeled. There were days when I was too self-conscious to look at myself in the mirror. My eczema had affected my mental health and self-esteem. At one point, it hurt just to move my lips. So, I called off work to heal and make a doctor's appointment.
Healing My Mental Health and Body from Eczema
Thankfully, after talking to my dermatologist and taking an allergen test, I found ways to prevent eczema flare-ups. I started using hypoallergenic moisturizing creams and ointments. To keep my hands moisturized at night, I coated them in Vaseline and wore gloves for protection. I also talked to my therapist about my self-image struggles during flare-ups.
Nowadays, I still get occasional eczema rashes. Usually, I buy hypoallergenic and dermatologist-approved cosmetic products. But a few weeks ago, I bought an eyeshadow pallet that was not completely safe. The next day, I had rashes around my eyes and on my forehead. I went to work feeling self-conscious, stressed out, irritable, and in pain. My eczema initially impacted my mental health, but after experiencing and healing from eczema before, I reminded myself that the rash would go away. After throwing away my new eyeshadow and using healing ointment, the eczema healed quickly.
If you have a skin condition that makes you feel miserable, self-conscious, or stressed out, please know that it is possible to find healing. Also, the symptoms of your diagnosis do not define your value as a person. You deserve to feel beautiful and loved.
- National Eczema Association. (2023, September 26). Eczema (atopic dermatitis): Causes, symptoms, and treatment. https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/
Lueck, M. (2023, October 2). My Experience with Eczema and Mental Health, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, December 2 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/toughtimes/2023/10/my-experience-with-eczema-and-mental-health