What is it like to live with eczema?

Atopic eczema can occur all over the body. It causes dry, reddened skin that may be very itchy, scaly or cracked. Constant scratching can split the skin, which may lead to infection – usually characterised by weeping or ‘wet’ eczema.

Having a skin condition like eczema can affect the way you look, how you feel about yourself, other people and the world around you. It is not just a matter of physical discomfort or inconvenience. Eczema can affect your emotional, social and personal wellbeing. It can disrupt family life, personal and social relationships, leisure, holidays, and all sorts of day-to-day activities.

The physical severity of your eczema does not necessarily dictate the extent to which your life is affected. It may depend on how noticeable your eczema is or where it occurs on your body. No-one else can really say how ‘mild’ or ‘moderate’ or ‘severe’ your eczema is for you – it is how you feel about your eczema that counts.

Having eczema may make you feel anxious, embarrassed, or lacking in confidence. It could also make you feel angry, frustrated or depressed. It may affect how you relate to other people, and how they relate to you. It may influence how you feel about life and the choices that you make. There is no single solution to coping with eczema – we all have different ways of meeting challenges and new situations. If you feel that you are finding it hard to cope with your own or your child’s eczema you may need to consider finding extra support.

Please speak to your GP or practice nurse if you are struggling. You can also find psychological therapies services near you on the NHS website.

For more information on living with eczema, please see our Living with eczema booklet. For more information on self-help psychological strategies and managing stress, please read the articles from our magazine, Exchange