New Research reveals link between Eczema and Mental Health Symptoms

Over 31 million Americans live with eczema – a chronic skin disease without a known cause or cure. Research has already shown that eczema is strongly associated with symptoms of psychological distress, including anxiety and depression. But patient and caregiver perceptions of this correlation haven’t been studied — until now.

The National Eczema Association (NEA) announced the first publication from its real-world research on eczema and its impacts on mental health. The results were published in the journal Dermatitis in March 2024.

In the new study, the NEA research team aimed to evaluate patient-reported mental health symptoms, their correlation with eczema severity, and patient-perceived associations of eczema and its impacts on mental health.

Credit; Pexels

“We wanted to find out eczema patients’ perceptions of how mental health relates to eczema symptoms,” said Jessica Johnson, co-author of the study and director of community research and engagement at NEA. “It’s important to understand patients’ and caregivers’ perspectives on this topic, because when people are aware of the connection between mental health and eczema symptoms, they may be more likely to seek support.”

As part of the study, adult eczema patients (18 years or older) as well as the primary caregivers of younger eczema patients (children and teens ages 8 to 17 years) completed a survey about mental health and eczema’s relationship to mental health. The survey included questions about eczema symptoms, mental health symptoms, perceptions of the connection between eczema and mental health, and experiences accessing mental health services. In the survey, mental health symptoms were defined as (but not limited to): trouble sleeping; difficulty concentrating; poor appetite; feeling tired; little interest or pleasure in activities; and feeling hopeless.

The study findings illustrated that adults, children and teens with eczema experience a significant mental health burden that increases with eczema severity:

  • 70% of respondents reported that either their own or their child’s mental health was impacted by eczema during the past year.
  • Around one fourth of respondents reported that they (or their child) had symptoms of poor mental health more than 10 days in the past month. Those with more severe eczema symptoms were more likely to have 10+ days of poor mental health than those with less severe eczema symptoms.
  • Most adults (65.5%) with eczema had anxiety scores that were “borderline abnormal” or “abnormal,” and nearly half (46.4%) had “borderline abnormal” or “abnormal” depression scores.
  • 84% of those with severe eczema reported that their or their child’s mood and emotions were affected “a lot” or “extremely” by eczema in the past month.
  • Both adults with eczema and caregivers of children and teens with eczema reported worsening mental health symptoms during flares and right before flares, and many also reported apprehension about future flares. 
Credit: Pexels

What does the Study Conclude?

The data confirms that many patients and caregivers are aware of the impact eczema has on their mental health and that they may need or want additional support.

“This study highlights the mental health impact eczema can have on patients despite the ever-growing pipeline of treatments and patient resources,” said Johnson. “There’s an opportunity for patients and healthcare providers to acknowledge and raise mental health considerations as part of a holistic and integrative approach to treatment.”

Future research may look at barriers to accessing mental health services for people with eczema, the extent to which healthcare providers who treat eczema monitor and follow-up on their patients’ mental health, and factors that may or may not lead someone with eczema to seek mental health care.

Additional findings and insights from this study are expected to be published soon.

For more information about this study and other research conducted by NEA, visit NationalEczema.org/surveys

About the National Eczema Association

Founded in 1988, the National Eczema Association (NEA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and the largest patient advocacy organization serving the over 31 million Americans who live with eczema and those who care for them. NEA provides programs and resources to elevate the diverse lived experience of eczema, and help patients and caregivers understand their disease, actively engage in their care, find strength in one another – and improve their lives. Additionally, NEA advances critical eczema research and partners with key stakeholders to ensure the patient voice is represented and valued in education, care and treatment decision-making. The eczema community is at an exciting juncture, with increased recognition of the seriousness and burden of eczema and a surge in scientific interest and development of new treatments. Bolstered by NEA’s strategic plan, Blueprint 2025, we are driving toward the ultimate vision: a world without eczema. Learn more at NationalEczema.org.

SOURCE National Eczema Association

Written by

  • Lisa Hanley

    Lisa Hanley is both the Founder and Editor of Ankha Azzura Magazine, a media platform that blends her passion in wellness, science, and holistic living. Having spent over a decade working in media, beginning with local radio and print and later transitioning to producing and luxury travel writing, Lisa established Ankha Global in 2022. She attended three universities in the UK to study Journalism and Media studies and currently resides in London with her partner.

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