How to Manage Work While Living with Eczema

Having eczema might cause distractions at work. You may assist manage eczema at work by making a plan for the day, actively managing stress, and being aware of triggers related to your job.

A collection of inflammatory skin disorders that include dry skin, redness, and severe itching are together referred to as eczema. The most prevalent type of eczema and chronic inflammatory skin condition is atopic dermatitis.

Eczema can cause excruciating, uncontrollable itching. It has the power to divert your attention from your task to the point where you have to give up to sate the want to scratch your skin. Workplace factors may exacerbate your eczema symptoms, including itching.

Apart from interfering with your work, eczema is sometimes misinterpreted and stigmatised, leading to anxiety and possibly self-consciousness in the workplace.

Your professional quality of life can be enhanced by knowing how to manage triggers related to your work and how to prepare for your workday while having eczema.

Managing potential eczema triggers in the workplace

Triggers for eczema are things that either worsen pre-existing symptoms or cause new ones to arise.

Eczema is a disorder that is worse by several workplace conditions, including stress, temperature, clothing worn for work, and irritants on the skin or in the air. Eczema is a condition of underlying inflammation and skin barrier malfunction.


Your body triggers a series of physiological reactions known as the stress response when you're under pressure at work. These reactions are meant to assist you in handling hardship. One aspect of the stress reaction is inflammation.

Stress exacerbates pre-existing inflammation in those with chronic inflammatory conditions like eczema, making symptoms worse or resulting in new ones.

You may be able to avoid stress-related itching episodes at work by controlling your stress levels before, during, and after work.

Options for managing your stress when you're not at work include:
  • exercise
  • meditation
  • techniques for relaxing, like deep breathing
  • mind-body techniques, including tai chi
  • spending time with pets
  • journaling
When you're at work and need to manage your stress, some quick fixes are:
  • repeating positive affirmations
  • calling or messaging a loved one
  • progressive muscle relaxation
  • slowly counting to 10
  • engaging in humour
  • Box breathing is inhaling, holding your breath, exhaling, and then holding your breath once more.
  • dividing up big tasks into smaller, more doable steps


Extreme temperatures have the potential to deplete skin hydration and exacerbate dryness. Being overheated can increase blood flow to your skin, causing redness and irritation, and sweat can irritate its surface.

Wearing layers can help you adapt to changing temperatures by allowing you to add or remove clothing when working in an environment with a range of temperatures.

You might also ask to have your desk moved away from direct sunlight or heating vents, or you might install a fan in your workspace.

Work clothes

Some materials have an abrasive texture or may obstruct the skin's natural ventilation, which can retain perspiration and make you feel hot.

Reduced irritation from clothes can be achieved by wearing loose-fitting, breathable materials like silk, cotton, or bamboo. If you must wear a uniform, your skin may be better protected if there's a thin layer of eczema-friendly cloth underneath it.

Work-related irritants

Higher exposure to irritants including chemicals, dust, and powders is a requirement for several vocations. When it comes to eczema, wearing personal protection equipment can significantly improve the condition.

It can be beneficial to wear protective clothing to keep irritants away from your skin, such as plastic suits, gloves, masks, and long sleeve shirts.

Frequent handwashing

The skin condition most commonly associated with work-related exposure is hand eczema. Water is one of the main causes of hand eczema irritation, while there are other factors as well.

Hand washing is a need for many occupations to maintain sanitation and stop the spread of contagious diseases. Dryness might still result from frequent hand washing, even if you don't have eczema.

Using a moisturiser following a wash or time spent in the water helps prevent skin irritation. Wear gloves whenever you can to avoid accidental water exposure from handwashing.

How to work when dealing with itch and other symptoms

Even if you take precautions to reduce your exposure to allergens at work, you may still get eczema symptoms there. As a chronic ailment, eczema frequently persists even in the absence of causes.

These suggestions from England's National Eczema Society may be helpful if symptoms like itching or dryness feel too much to handle and interfere with your ability to focus:
  • If at all feasible, reapply moisturiser throughout the day.
  • To assist calm skin, apply cooling emollients or keep your emollient chilled.
  • If you can't reapply at work, use long-acting moisturisers that contain humectant components (propylene glycol, glycerol, and lactic acid).
  • Store a freezer-safe cold compress that can be used on irritated skin.
Another option in case physical coping measures prove insufficient is mindfulness. A level of consciousness known as mindfulness involves paying attention to the present and absorbing ideas and events without passing judgement.

According to a 2019 study, pain tolerance and endurance were found to increase when discomfort was accepted consciously rather than being the focus of attention.

How to talk about eczema at work

You don't have to tell everyone about your eczema, but discussing it with trustworthy coworkers and superiors may help.

Raising awareness of illnesses like eczema aids in lessening the stigma associated with them. A lot of individuals are unaware of what eczema is. They may erroneously believe it to be a hygiene issue or communicable.

Incorporating informative remarks regarding eczema into discussions helps foster compassion for the ailment. Speaking with supervisors also makes it possible to request reasonable adjustments, including the use of a private space for applying moisturiser.

Eczema may be considered a handicap under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and might result in serious impairment to one's ability to perform one's job. At work, you are entitled to reasonable accommodations.

To initiate the discussion with supervisors, take into account:
  • educating yourself on the company's medical accommodations policies
  • possessing medical records to back up your request
  • Choose a moment when you can have a private talk
  • Learn in detail how eczema affects your productivity at work
  • possessing a catalogue of particular accommodations
  • highlighting the advantages to the business of offering lodging
  • being composed, professional, and willing to make concessions
  • putting a written follow-up on your interaction

Switching positions or careers

Some occupations might be inherently more difficult if you have eczema. These include activities involving frequent chemical exposure, like hairstyling and cleaning, jobs involving high concentrations of particulate matter, like carpentry, and jobs involving extreme temperatures, frequent exposure to water, or high levels of stress.

It might be time to think about changing jobs if your line of work or career is seriously impairing your eczema.


A collection of inflammatory skin disorders with comparable symptoms of dryness, itching, and irritation are collectively referred to as "eczema."

Working with eczema can be difficult due to trigger exposure, stigma, and lack of accommodations, but you can improve your professional well-being by handling these problems proactively.

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