A Little Bit of Stress, A Little Bit of Itch

Stress is one factor that’s listed in almost anything that you read about eczema. Honestly, I don’t even know that means. Is it emotional stress, like when something makes you extremely mad or upset? Is it stress on your body, like if you’re having a busy week, functioning on 6-7 hours of sleep a night and eating meals at odd hours? Who knows? And a better question is, how are you supposed to monitor (and therefore control it to prevent future flare ups) if don’t have a clear idea of what “stress” is?

LIVESTRONG and MayoClinic describe the relationship between eczema and stress as:

Stress is common for just about everyone who deals with a job, family and responsibilities. Many stress symptoms are emotional, like excess worry and impaired concentration. But stress can manifest itself physically, too. Most have reactions like rapid breathing and heart rate, tense muscles, sweating and trembling. Stress can also affect you internally, triggering hormone releases and suppressing the immune response. It can even cause outbreaks of a skin problem called eczema.
– from LIVESTRONG

Stress and other emotional disorders can worsen atopic dermatitis, but they don’t cause it.
– from MayoClinic

August 2011 00301 Eczema Stress
Bleach spots on one of my favourite summer dresses.

I had a minor incident on one of my favourite dresses today. The cleaning lady in the ladies’ room decided to use bleach on the counter top and as I leaned in a little closer to wash my hands, I got a few drops of bleach water on my dress. I didn’t even see it, or come to the conclusion of how it all happened until I saw white, white, white spots on the front of my fuchsia-colored dress. I was shocked for about five minutes, then extremely upset for 30 seconds, and then angry. So incredibly angry. No one should be using bleach on the counter tops anyways – bleach is only used on the floors (I checked with building management on this one). I obviously complained to the HR department, who said this isn’t the first time it has happened. I also mentioned that it’s hazardous to anyone who is allergic to and came into with the bleach, and that they needed to take care of it immediately.

But this blog post isn’t about how incredibly mad I was about my dress. It’s about what happened after. The old eczema rash on my inner elbow started itching. I’ve been more aware and observant about changes in my body since I started this blog, and as soon as I realised I was itchy, I quickly looked to see if the itchy patch was red (and whether a picture would be needed). It looked fine though, the same faded colour as it has been for the past few days, but it was definitely itchy. I was unconsciously gently scratching it too. I was still shooting steam when HR called and we had a chat with the building management together, who took a picture of the damage. I returned to my desk, still very angry but a little calmer. And my arm had stopped itching. It seemed like my emotional state was having an effect on my eczema. Could this be (emotional) stress?

Do you notice a link between stress levels and your eczema?

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