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Getting Support for Your Atopic Dermatitis

Medically reviewed by Debra Sullivan, PhD, MSN, RN, CNE, COI on May 19, 2016Written by Megan Baird on May 19, 2016
support for atopic dermatitis

Sometimes it might feel like you’re the only one with atopic dermatitis (AD). When you’re lying awake in bed at night scratching and worried about waking your partner, it’s easy to feel alone.

AD can cause a great deal of emotional stress. You might feel embarrassed to be seen during a flare-up, or you may worry that friends will think your rash is contagious.

There’s no reason to deal with AD alone. According to the National Eczema Association (NEA), over 30 million Americans have eczema and nearly 18 million of those have chronic AD. So even if you don’t know anyone in your circle of friends with AD, you’re definitely not alone.

Support groups

The physical impact of the itch-scratch cycle can greatly affect your quality of life. Sleep disruption and skin infections are physically and emotionally demanding.

Parents of infants with AD may struggle even more than if they had AD themselves. It’s tough to watch your baby scratch and cry when lotions and creams sting sensitive skin.

This is why support is so important in managing AD. Stress can cause your AD to flare up, so stressing about AD may make things worse!

Luckily, now more than ever, it’s easy to connect with other people managing their AD through support groups. Simply put, a support group is a group of people who share a common interest or concern. Depending on your needs, you might find a specific AD support group or a support group for people with various skin conditions likes eczema, psoriasis, and seborrheic dermatitis.

By participating in a support group, you can:

  • share tips and success stories
  • feel less isolated
  • speak honestly and openly about your struggles
  • reduce anxiety

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) encourages doctors to recommend support groups to their patients.

Online resources

When you have a question about your eczema, the first place you’ll likely turn is the internet. The NEA is one of the best online resources for eczema and AD support. Their support page offers a telephone hotline and an email contact form where you can get in touch with a specialist about your concerns. They are also an excellent resource for finding a local support group.

Other resources to look at include the Eczema Society of Canada (ESC) and the National Eczema Society (NES).

Local support groups

Sometimes you just can’t beat the support from a face-to-face meeting with people. Ask your doctor or hospital about groups in your area. Your local library or community center might also maintain a list of resources for local support groups.

A local support group leader might bring in experts, offer stress-reduction techniques, and allow members to share their successes. Your support group peers should remind you that you’re not alone and that even the worst AD symptoms can be managed.

Some local chapters may even host special sessions like yoga classes or meditation training.

Takeaway

If you feel the need to talk or learn more about AD, a support group can be a great place to go. Connecting with others can be done in person or online.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Many medical professionals will be happy to point you in the direction of a good support group.

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