This blog post was a good one to dive into, but it is a little short…the research surrounding the brain-skin axis is still very new and thus there aren’t many published studies out there. That being said, the info I did find was very interesting and I hope you find it so as well!
Living with eczema can be a challenging experience as it not only affects the physical aspects of our skin but also has a profound impact on our mental and emotional well-being. Recent research has shed light on the intricate connection between our brain and skin, known as the brain-skin axis. Let’s explore the concept of the brain-skin axis and delve into how psychological factors can influence eczema. Understanding this relationship can empower those with eczema to take actions to address both the physical and emotional aspects of the condition.
The brain-skin axis
The brain skin axis represents the pathway of communication between the brain and skin. It involves a complex interplay of neuroendocrine, immune, and neural factors that influence skin health and various skin conditions, including eczema. The axis operates in a bidirectional manner, with the brain impacting the skin and the skin influencing brain function. Stress, anxiety and other emotional factors have long been recognized as triggers or exacerbating factors for eczema symptoms. Psychological stress can activate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, resulting in the release of the stress hormone cortisol. Elevated cortisol levels have been associated with increased inflammation and compromised skin barrier function, both of which contribute to the worsening of eczema symptoms.
Furthermore, psychological stress can also impact the immune system, leading to dysregulation of immune responses and heightened inflammation in the skin. Studies have shown that stress disrupts the balance of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines (proteins that are important in cell signalling).
Here are some de-stressing strategies to incorporate into an eczema management plan:
1. Stress Management: Implement stress reduction techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, deep breathing exercises or engaging inactivates that promote relaxation. These practises can help alleviate stress and reduce the impact of cortisol on eczema symptoms.
2. Emotional support: Seek emotional support from loved ones, friends o support groups. Sharing concerns and experiences with others who understand can provide a valuable outlet and reduce the emotional burden of eczema.
3. Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy: Consider consulting with a mental health professional trained in CBT techniques. CBT can help identify and modify negative thought patterns and behaviours associated with eczema, leading to improved coping strategies, and reduced emotional distress.
Recognizing the brain-skin axis and its impact on eczema provides individuals with the knowledge and tools to adopt a holistic approach to their eczema management. By addressing not only the physical symptoms but also the psychological and emotional aspects of the condition, individuals can enhance their overall well-being and quality of life. Remember, managing eczema is a multi-faceted journey that may require a combination of stress reduction techniques, emotional support, and skincare routines.
Happy Tuesday everyone!
P.S. You can now book an introductory call with me if you want to work with me but aren't too sure where to begin/ if I can help you. 1:1 consultations will be available very soon, there's just some fine print I need to work out...
P.P.S Go and have a look at the new resources section on here! This is where I'll be putting my educational masterclasses you can purchase in different topics surrounding dietetics that don't require an appointment with me.