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How Physical Movement Can Alleviate the Symptoms of Eczema

I’m currently going through an uncomfortable flare-up where the surrounding skin of my mouth is tight, oozy, extremely dry, and unbearably itchy. This flare is so intense that it’s challenging to move my mouth, speak, or even smile. Every movement feels like my skin is ripping open. (Sorry, but not sorry for the graphic detail. #TheRealEczema)

Physical movement and eczema

Although considered dangerous and even more harmful, scratching my skin off and rubbing it profusely always sounds like the simpler and “but it would feel so good” thing to do. However, after 27 years of living with eczema, I know better. In addition to physically reacting, emotionally reacting and becoming angry and frustrated with my eczema also sounds like the easiest thing to do. But again, after 27 years of living with eczema, I know better.

So to prevent or manage both the physical and mental symptoms of eczema, I’ve really been practicing the power of physical movement. Moving my body in small or big ways has really been supporting me in bringing forth healing or relief to the flared-up area and peace to my unsettling heart.

Movement therapy and mental health

Movement therapies have long been used to treat mental health disorders like depression and anxiety. One of the most studied practices to shift or alter your current emotion is to literally move. A Harvard article notes that movement can influence how a person feels and reduce depressive symptoms.

The author writes that “regular aerobic exercise can reduce anxiety by making your brain’s “fight or flight” system less reactive. When anxious people are exposed to physiological changes they fear, such as a rapid heartbeat, through regular aerobic exercise, they can develop a tolerance for such symptoms.”1

Tolerating eczema sensations

That’s the goal – to become less reactive to the physical and mental sensations of eczema and become tolerant of its symptoms to re-gain a sense of control.

To learn more about the benefits of staying physically active, read this past article.

Types of movement

Although many articles emphasize the importance of aerobic exercise, there are many forms of movements one can do in the comfort of their own home or space.

Here are a few I enjoy doing when wanting to bring immediate relief to my eczema symptoms. Warning: some may seem absurd and wacky, but it works!

  • Go out on a walk
  • Solo dance session
  • Drink something cold or warm
  • Draw/paint
  • Drop into push-ups/squats
  • Yoga
  • Take a shower
  • Clean your room
  • Cook a meal/eat
  • Wiggle your shoulders and do the Harlem shake
  • Fly like a bird
  • Pretend to be a black belt

All of these types of movements have the potential of driving attention AWAY from your eczema symptoms and more into a space of control.

Not just for eczema

What’s awesome is that this tip is not only for those who live with eczema but also for people who are experiencing “negative” emotions like sadness, anger, frustration, depression, etc.

So whether you’re feeling one of those strong scratching attacks coming along or you need a pick-me-up, MOVE! And when that doesn’t seem to work, MOVE AGAIN.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AtopicDermatitis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Pillay S. How simply moving benefits your mental health. Harvard Health Blog. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-simply-moving-benefits-your-mental-health-201603289350. Published March 28, 2016.

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