Is Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema) Messing With Your Body Image?

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Body image and self-esteem are closely linked, and a chronic condition like atopic dermatitis (AD) can interfere with both. For example, if atopic dermatitis has made you dislike how your skin looks or feels, it can be tough to feel good about yourself in general. Similarly, if atopic dermatitis has […]

Body image and self-esteem are closely linked, and a chronic condition like atopic dermatitis (AD) can interfere with both. For example, if atopic dermatitis has made you dislike how your skin looks or feels, it can be tough to feel good about yourself in general.

Similarly, if atopic dermatitis has dealt a blow to your self-esteem, you may struggle to appreciate your body and all the good things about it. These negative thoughts and feelings frequently lead to negative thinking about other things, so it can be helpful from time to time to assess whether your skin condition is having an adverse effect on your mental health and emotional well-being.

“Any skin disease that can cover a significant amount of someone’s body — and the parts of their body that the world sees — can make people very self conscious and affect their self-esteem,” says Amy Wechsler, MD, a New York City–based skin health expert who is board certified in both dermatology and psychiatry.

Plus, if your atopic dermatitis isn’t well controlled or you’re experiencing a flare, it can “make the skin itchy, raw, and sore, and there can be swelling, rashes, and bleeding,” says Rachel Milstein Goldenhar, PhD, a clinical psychologist in San Diego who specializes in psychodermatology — the treatment of skin conditions using psychological techniques — and other treatments for people with skin conditions. “It can kind of overtake everything.”

The good news: With the right kind of treatment, it’s possible to have both clear skin and a healthy body image.

Answer these eight questions to find out if atopic dermatitis has changed your perception of yourself — and what you can do to make sure you feel confident in your own skin.

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