Eczema is a common skin condition that affects around 1 in 10 children. It causes dry, itchy and inflamed patches of skin that can be very uncomfortable and frustrating. But eczema is not just a physical problem – it can also have a significant impact on your child’s mental health.
According to several studies, children and adolescents with eczema face a higher risk of depression, anxiety, behavioral problems and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) than those without the condition. They may also experience bullying, social isolation and low self-esteem because of their appearance and activity limitations.
“Research suggests that children with eczema, particularly atopic dermatitis, have higher rates of depression and anxiety. They are more likely to experience bullying in school and social isolation because of activity restrictions due to the disease,” says Healthline, a trusted source of health information.
One of the reasons why eczema can affect your child’s mental health is the constant itchiness that can disrupt their sleep, concentration and mood. Another reason is the stress that comes with managing the condition and coping with its symptoms.
“Maternal mental health may, therefore, have direct effects on a child’s mental health, as well as indirect effects via poor disease management resulting in a worsening of symptoms, which in turn leads to disrupted sleep and an increase in behavioral difficulties,” says BMC Psychiatry, a peer-reviewed journal.
Moreover, some factors can make the situation worse for your child, such as maternal mental disorders, lack of support from relatives and exposure to stressful events. These factors can interfere with the care and control of asthma, which is more common in children with eczema.
“Caring for a child with asthma may cause psychological stress that can go unnoticed in routine clinical follow-up. This, in turn, may interfere with the care and control of the disease in the child,” says Journal of Child and Family Studies, another peer-reviewed journal.
“The lack of support from relatives may act as a booster for the impact of poor maternal mental health on uncontrolled asthma in the child,” adds the same journal.
So what can you do to help your child cope with eczema and its mental health effects? Here are some tips:
– Seek professional help. If you notice signs of depression, anxiety or other mental health issues in your child, talk to their doctor or a pediatric mental health specialist. They can diagnose the problem and provide appropriate treatment and support.
– Treat eczema symptoms. Follow your doctor’s advice on how to prevent and treat eczema flares. This may include using moisturizers, avoiding triggers, applying topical medications or taking oral medications. Keeping eczema symptoms under control can improve your child’s physical and emotional well-being.
– Educate yourself and others. Learn more about eczema and its impact on mental health from reliable sources. Share this information with your family members, friends, teachers and other caregivers who interact with your child. This can help them understand your child’s condition and provide support and empathy.
– Encourage positive coping skills. Help your child develop healthy ways to deal with stress, such as relaxation techniques, physical activity, hobbies or talking to someone they trust. Praise your child for their strengths and achievements and help them build their self-confidence and resilience.
– Seek social support. Find a local or online support group for parents or children with eczema. This can help you and your child connect with others who share similar experiences and challenges. You can also seek help from a counselor or therapist if you need more guidance or emotional support.
Eczema can be a challenging condition for both you and your child. But by taking care of their physical and mental health, you can help them live a happier and healthier life. Remember that you are not alone – there are many resources and people who can help you along the way.
– Childhood asthma and eczema in relation to mental health: a longitudinal cohort study, BMC Psychiatry, April 16, 2019
– Asthma Control in Children and Adolescents whose Mothers have a Common Mental Disorder, Journal of Child and Family Studies, October 22, 2021
– Eczema and Mental Health in Children, Healthline, November 10, 2021
– Mental health associations with eczema, asthma and hay fever in a cross-sectional community-based study of children, BMJ Open, October 14, 2016