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How can eczema affect my child's mood?

Living with the constant itch of eczema often affects a child’s mood. A baby or young child who has eczema can be:

  • Irritable

  • Fussy

  • Clingy

  • Restless

Some children learn that scratching gets their parents’ attention. When this happens, scratching can become a habit.

Teens with eczema can develop depression: Having depression can make it more difficult to follow a treatment plan and cope with life’s challenges.

Moody teen

Teens with eczema may have depression, anxiety

Studies show that teenagers with eczema can develop anxiety and depression. This risk appears highest in those who have eczema that never completely stops flaring or flares frequently.

Some teens with eczema have said that their eczema makes them think about committing suicide.

What can parents do?

Research shows that easing your child’s discomfort often improves the child’s mood. You can help your child by:

  1. Treating the eczema: Yes, treating the eczema really can be effective. Controlling the disease can help the skin look and feel normal. Studies show that this can improve a child’s quality of life. This, in turn, can improve the family’s quality of life.
  2. There are many effective treatments for eczema. Dermatologists have expertise in diagnosing and treating eczema. If you are having problems controlling the eczema, you should talk with a dermatologist.

  3. Helping your child stop scratching: The following techniques have proven effective for many children with eczema: Home remedies: What can relieve itchy eczema?
  4. Teaching your child to deal with stress effectively: Stress is a common trigger for eczema. Learning coping skills can tame stress. You can get started by reading Stress: Is it a common eczema trigger?
  5. Getting professional help for a child who has anxiety or depression: Research shows that people who have a long-term skin disease have a higher risk of developing depression and anxiety.
  6. For some teens, getting the eczema under control lifts the depression (or anxiety). Some teens feel better with eczema treatment and psychological counseling.

Related AAD resources

Eichenfield LF, Tom WL et al. “Guidelines of care for the management of atopic dermatitis. Section 1: Diagnosis and assessment of atopic dermatitis.” J Am Acad Dermatol 2014 Feb;70(2):338-51.

Fried RG, Gupta MA, et al. “Depression and skin disease.” Dermatol Clin. 2005 Oct;23(4):657-64.

Halvorsen JA, Lien L, et al. “Suicidal ideation, mental health problems, and social function in adolescents with eczema: A population-based study.” J Invest Dermatol. 2014 Jul;134(7):1847-54.