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Stress: Is it a common eczema trigger?

As children transition into their tween or teen years, stress often becomes a common eczema trigger. Research shows that managing stress effectively can reduce eczema flares.

Manage stress

Stress is a common eczema trigger, so it’s important to teach your child how to manage stress.

Boy stressing over homework. Stress is a common eczema trigger.

Here are some ways you can help your tween or teen better cope with stress.

  1. Encourage your child to connect with others kids who have eczema. Having eczema can be stressful for a kid. Some kids find it distressing to have eczema because of the discomfort it causes and the way it can make their skin look. Kids who have eczema may be bullied because their skin looks different.

    When kids connect with others who face similar circumstances, they often feel less stress. One way kids can connect is by attending the American Academy of Dermatology’s (Academy) Camp Discovery. Many kids look forward to spending a week at camp all year long.

    • Academy’s summer camp for kids 8 -16 who have long-term skin disease.
    • Free to attend.
    • Campers spend the week under care of dermatologists and nurses.

    If your child feels better with support throughout the year, the National Eczema Association offers support groups across the United States. Telephone support is also available for people living with eczema.

    National Eczema Association (NEA) Support Network: Support groups can help parents and kids learn effective ways to cope. This can boost self-esteem. Joining a support group can also reduce feelings of isolation.
    The NEA also offers an annual NEA Patient Conference, which include an NEA Kids Camp.

  2. Help your tween or teen with a stressful situation. Learning how to manage stress effectively can help a child feel less stress. And less stress can mean fewer eczema flares.

    If you're uncertain how to deal with stress, these sources can help you get started:

  3. Be a role model for healthy habits. Studies show that people manage stress more effectively when they take good care of their health.

    Studies also show that parents’ everyday behavior plays a big part in shaping the child’s behavior. If you want your child to eat healthy, prepare and eat well-balanced meals. If you want your child to watch less TV, you need to spend less time in front of the TV.

  4. Check in with your tween or teen to find out if your child is following the dermatologist’s eczema treatment plan. This plan helps to hydrate the skin, reduce irritation, and repair the skin’s barrier. When skin is in better shape, it’s less likely to flare.

    This is why it’s important for your child to:

    • Moisturize as often as recommended.
    • Use eczema medicine as recommended.
    • Avoid known triggers and be aware that new triggers may develop as childhood triggers fade.

  5. Make sure your child sees a doctor who is an eczema specialist. Studies show that children with eczema have fewer signs and symptoms when they receive care from a doctor who has lots of training and experience with eczema.

    This often leads children to feel less stressed. Dermatologists and pediatric dermatologists have in-depth knowledge of eczema.

Related AAD resources

Abramovits W. “Atopic dermatitis.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2005 Jul;53(1 Suppl 1):S86-93.

Chamlin SL, Chren MM, “Quality-of-life outcomes and measurement in childhood atopic dermatitis “Immunol Allergy Clin North Am. Aug 2010; 30(3):281–8.

Lonne-Rahm S, Berg M, et al. “Atopic dermatitis, stinging, and effects of chronic stress: a pathocausal study.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2004 Dec;51:899-905.

Misery L, Boussetta S et al. “Atopic dermatitis: Evaluation of self-perceived stress and quality of life.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2008 Feb;58 (supp 2, page AB48). Research funded by Laboratoires Dermatologiques Ducray and Pierre Fabre. 

National Institutes of Health, NIH News in Health, “Shape your family’s habits.” February 2013.

Sidbury R, Tom WL, et al. “Guidelines of care for the management of atopic dermatitis. Part 4: Prevention of disease flares and use of adjunctive therapies and approaches.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014 Dec;71(6):1218-33.