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How to Take Care of Yourself First to Avoid Caregiver Fatigue

By Caregivers, Emotional support, SleepNo Comments

Caring for a loved one with a chronic condition can be incredibly challenging. As a caregiver, you are at risk of emotional exhaustion, stress and anxiety, which can manifest in countless different ways. You no doubt have a lot of responsibility as a caregiver and it can be hard to find the time to look after yourself too. However, there are active steps you can take that could help you to manage the symptoms of caregiver fatigue. We want to remind you of the wonderful job you’re doing as a caregiver. Difficult feelings are normal and natural and it’s okay to feel frustrated, lonely, and even angry at times. It’s important to learn how to respond to your emotions in a healthy way and accept that you’ll have difficult days too. In this article, we’ll discuss the very real issue of caregiver fatigue and provide you with tips on how to live well so you can look after yourself and your loved one. What is caregiver fatigue? And what causes it? Caregiver fatigue (sometimes called caregiver burnout) can take the form of physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion: in other words, being so tired that you can no longer do things properly. Heidi Donovan, a professor of health and community systems at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, was quoted by USA News Today as saying: “I think of caregiver fatigue as that overwhelming sense of physical tiredness really that comes from either the physical or mental demands of providing care to a loved one […] I think a lot of it’s the kind of strain that comes from the feeling of responsibility towards somebody else.” It’s important to recognize that family caregivers are not the same as social workers. Family caregivers are not paid, don’t necessarily receive any formal training, and might be completely alone when it comes to providing support. Heather, who is a caregiver for her husband, said: “I had been caring for my partner with Long COVID for a few months when a friend whose partner had cancer asked, “So how’s that caregiver fatigue going for you?” It blew my mind. I had no idea my feelings were common enough to have a name. Just knowing that other people were as tired of caregiving as I was changed everything.” Caregiver fatigue is a very real problem. It’s important to remember that you are never alone and that there are people and services out there that can help. Some caregiving numbers. Recent data suggests that there are 53 million people in the US providing unpaid care to family members or friends. 41.8 million of these caregivers are caring for someone over the age of 50. The same study found that the average caregiver offers 23.7 hours of care a week. However, this number drastically increases to 37.4 hours a week when the caregiver lives in the same house as the care recipient. What causes caregiver fatigue? Unrealistic expectations. One of the biggest contributors to mental exhaustion for caregivers is the unattainable expectations and demands. Many of these are placed on caregivers by themselves rather than their loved one. It’s never your fault if you find yourself suffering from caregiver fatigue. But, if you can identify your symptoms, you can start taking action to manage the expectations you may have put on yourself. While the unattainable expectations and demands can come from the caregivers themselves, they can also come from those around them – from the person receiving care to other family members, wider society, and sometimes even medical professionals. Role confusion. How much is expected of you? Is it your job? How do you negotiate between this and your other roles in their life? You may well find yourself asking these questions as you try to figure out your role as a carer. When you become someone’s carer, your relationship might change forever. This can be difficult to accept sometimes. But it’s not always as bad as people think. Heather, who is a caregiver for her husband, said: “Becoming a caregiver for a loved one inherently changes your relationship forever. There’s no way around that. But it doesn’t have to be a change for the worse. Think about how you can build communication and trust with one another. There will be new moments for humor and new intimacies that you would never have experienced otherwise. Some days it will be impossible to see the positives, but know that some do exist.” Not having control. Not having control of your loved one’s health deterioration or dealing with a lack of money or time to effectively care for someone can be incredibly stressful. The sense of losing control can also be a contributing factor to caregiver fatigue. A person’s social and economic background can magnify the effects of caregiver fatigue. This is sometimes called social determinants of health. People from certain class and racial backgrounds might be disproportionately affected by the symptoms of caregiver fatigue. For example, there are some people who are caring for a loved one but can afford a little bit of extra help. Some people might be able to afford adjusting mobility beds while others might not. As a caregiver, instead of focusing on what you can’t control, try to focus on what you can – even if it’s something small like picking up your loved one’s medication from the doctor. The little things in life can often have a big impact on our mental wellbeing. Supporting someone with a condition that affects their behavior. It can be very emotionally challenging to care for someone who is living with a condition which affects their behavior. For example, a person who needs care but adamantly believes that they don’t – this might be true of a loved one with dementia. When someone is refusing care, but can’t live independently, it can be very challenging for the caregiver. This can result in emotional and mental exhaustion which is one of the symptoms of caregiver fatigue. Emily, a carer, who was in a situation like this said: “It’s like you’re trying to help them [the care recipient] while also battling against them. You feel torn between your feelings of sadness and frustration. You end up questioning yourself and asking: is this the right thing to do?” It’s important to be aware of the causes of caregiver fatigue so you can take action to prevent burnout. Signs of caregiver burnout. The following are some of the symptoms of caregiver burnout to look out for: Feeling sad, hopeless or depressed. Changes in eating habits: either eating too much or too little, and potentially having an unhealthy change in weight. Feeling exhausted: both physically or emotionally. Feeling grumpier than usual. Wanting to hurt or harm the person you’re caring for or yourself. Feeling unwell and being unable to do things you would usually be able to do. Altered sleeping habits: either sleeping more or less to an unhealthy degree. Finding that habits are changing: this could even be losing interest in a hobby. Spending less time with friends, family and loved ones. Caregiving and guilt. Guilt is a big emotion which caregivers often find themselves dealing with. You may find yourself wondering things like: Am I doing enough? Do other people do more? Am I helping or just making things worse? There are lots of articles online about caregiver guilt which offer advice. Here are our top tips: Acknowledge and accept the guilt – feeling guilty is a common response and not something you should be ashamed of. Look at the bigger picture – the situation won’t last forever. Be confident in knowing that you are making the best decisions for you and your loved one – constantly second guessing your decisions isn’t helpful so try and have faith in your decisions. Accept that you’re not perfect – we all have flaws and emotions that we probably shouldn’t. Prioritise yourself – this might instinctively feel wrong, but, remember, on flights we’re always told to put on our own oxygen masks before helping others. Reach out for support from family and friends – know that you’re not alone in your caregiver journey and that there are people who can help. It’s important to accept that however you’re feeling is valid. Caregivers often feel resentment and anger – these are normal emotional responses and you shouldn’t feel bad for having them. Try not to feel guilty for being sad or feeling like you’re not doing enough. It’s ok to struggle and it’s ok to have bad days. We’re all human after all. Steps to living well as a caregiver. Maintaining healthy relationships with friends and family members. It can be tricky to maintain relationships with your loved ones, especially when you feel like you’ve got enough on your plate already. However, it’s important to try and maintain positive relationships with friends and family members as they can provide you with a sense of support and encouragement during your caregiver journey. Try and make an effort to send messages to people – even if it’s simply ‘I hope you’re having a good day’. Keeping in touch and communicating often keeps us afloat. Remember, if you want to, it is ok to reach out to family and friends to ask for help. People probably won’t hold it against you and you might be surprised at how many people want to help, but might not know how to offer. Join a support group. Whether it’s a virtual meeting or simply joining a Facebook group, there are plenty of online caregiver support groups who can advise you on matters like state support, realistic caregiver responsibilities, and nursing homes in your area. If you’re joining an online social media group, it’s always a good idea to find a group which is in your area – this means that people will be aware of the local laws as well as local care centres and charities who might be able to offer you some support. Sometimes it can be really valuable to talk with someone who has been through the same experience and can understand what you are going through. Also, when you help others, it might even help you better understand your own position. Practice self-care. If you don’t look after yourself then you probably won’t be in a condition to look after someone else. As a carer, it is important to remember to make time for you and the things which make your life good: maybe that’s writing a journal, going for a walk, or finding an evening to watch TV. Your identity is not defined by the care you give. So remember to make time for yourself. Heather said: “The hardest thing about being a caregiver is self-care. You know it’s true, but you still can’t bring yourself to do it, right? The first time I went to a yoga class after my partner got sick, I cried out of guilt. But you have to take care of yourself in order to take care of others. If you don’t build yourself up, there’s nothing left to give.” Here at Sidekick, we strongly believe in the practice of mindfulness. This can be a great way of managing the symptoms of caregiver fatigue. We hope that this article has helped familiarize you with the symptoms of caregiver fatigue so that you can recognize and respond to them in a healthy way. The key to providing the best care to your loved one is taking care of yourself first. You’ve got this. “Some days it will be impossible to see the positives, but know that some do exist.” Heather, a caregiver.

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Rheumatoid Arthritis Stigmas and Stereotypes: Setting the Record Straight

By Emotional support, Rheumatoid ArthritisNo Comments

We understand that living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be challenging – especially when there are so many stigmas and stereotypes about what it means to live with the condition. This article will help inform and educate you about the realities of living with rheumatoid arthritis as well as how to deal with some of the most common misconceptions about RA. What is rheumatoid arthritis? Rheumatoid arthritis (otherwise known as RA or arthritis) is a condition that causes inflammation and pain. The pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis can affect more than just the joints in your hands. RA is an inflammatory and autoimmune disease. An inflammatory illness is when a part of the body sometimes swells and heats up, and an autoimmune illness is when the immune system attacks the body – RA can be a combination of both and can affect different parts of the body in different ways. According to the Arthritis Foundation, some of the symptoms and early signs of RA may include: Stiff joints, tenderness, swelling, or stiffness that lasts for six weeks or longer. Morning stiffness that lasts for 30 minutes or longer. Pain in more than one joint. Small joints (wrists, certain joints in the hands and feet) are typically affected first. The same joints on both sides of the body are affected. Many of these symptoms often come together in what’s known as a flare-up. Official government statistics estimate that 24% of adults in the USA have arthritis and 2.3 million people are diagnosed with the condition in Europe every year. However, there are so many myths, stereotypes, and stigmas surrounding the condition and how it affects people who live with it. All of this misinformation often leads to certain stereotypes about people with RA. Busting common RA myths. It’s important to acknowledge why stigmas and stereotypes can be harmful. A stereotype or stigma usually exists because people have an oversimplified understanding of something: for example, that RA only affects joints. Many people living with RA experience symptoms outside of the stereotypes. They may find that others overlook their symptoms or assume they’re not as serious because they don’t have the stereotipical symptoms of the illness. This is just one example of how stereotypes can have a negative impact on people living with the condition. So, what are the most common stereotypes surrounding rheumatoid arthritis? It’s time for some myth-busting. Myth #1: Only old people get arthritis. We chatted to Emily, who was diagnosed with RA at the age of thirteen. She had this to say: “One misconception about rheumatoid arthritis is that only old people can get it. I was diagnosed with RA at the age of thirteen years but had symptoms for around a year before.” You can read our full interview with Emily right here. While people with RA are often older, it can severely affect young people too. Some research suggests that as many as 8 in 100,000 people aged 18-34 experience RA. Younger people like Emily can often struggle to come to terms with their own condition when everyone around them is holding on to misconceptions. “I did sometimes feel embarrassed using a wheelchair or walking stick at the age of thirteen because it felt like everyone was staring at me, and some people actually were. I could feel people looking at me as if to say, ‘you don’t need that; you look fine.’” Some of the most harmful kinds of stereotypes are those which undermine the condition or suggest that it is the fault of the person living with it. Myth #2: All arthritis is the same. A lot of people think that arthritis is all the same. Strange knobbly hands and stiff joints on old people. This is not the case. Arthritis actually has different types and each type can produce different symptoms which affect different people in different ways. Here are the three most common types of arthritis: Osteoarthritis – normally starts in an isolated joint and occurs when the smooth cartilage joint surface wears out. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis with an estimated 32.5 million cases in the US. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) – this is an autoimmune disease that often attacks several joints at the same time. RA is when the immune system gets confused and attacks the lining of the tissues around your joints. This often causes swelling and pain. Over time, RA can cause physical deformity. According to the American College of Rheumatology, this is the most common type of autoimmune arthritis and affects over 1.3 million Americans. Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) – is also an autoimmune disease; however, PsA causes the body’s immune system to attack not just your joints but also your skin. Each form of arthritis has its own list of symptoms and everyone experiences the condition differently. Not all of the symptoms of the different types of arthritis are visible. Remember, just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean that someone doesn’t have it. Myth #3: All joint pain is RA. This is not true. There are many conditions – like tendonitis, osteoarthritis, bursitis, and Lyme disease – which can cause joint pain. It’s important to treat such pains seriously and get them properly checked out by a medical professional. Going around telling people you have arthritis or RA when you’ve got a mild discomfort in your joints might not help the cause of people with arthritis to get others to take their condition seriously. Myth #4: Cracking your knuckles causes arthritis. This is one of the most common and most misleading myths about arthritis. There is no proven evidence – scientific or otherwise – to prove that cracking your knuckles causes any form of arthritis. It’s true that cracking your knuckles excessively can cause other injuries, but there’s no proof that it causes arthritis. And as we know from myth #2, not all joint pain is RA! One of the problems with this myth is that it might suggest that someone has arthritis because they did something wrong. To be clear: it is not someone’s fault if they have arthritis. On a side note, if you do have RA or osteoarthritis which affects the joints in your hands, you should avoid cracking your knuckles as it might aggravate some of the pre-existing symptoms. Myth #5: Arthritis is always worse in winter. People also used to believe that banging pots and pans would ward off evil spirits. But as scientific knowledge spreads, silly misunderstandings like these eventually disappear. Some people report that pain and symptoms, like tender joints, worsen during cold, rain, and low atmospheric pressure periods. Others say that flares occur when it is humid or hot outside. Unfortunately, studies into the effects of weather on rheumatoid arthritis are sparse. Everyone’s experience with rheumatoid arthritis is unique to them and triggers and symptoms depend on the individual. You can read more about seasonal factors and RA here. There is little scientific evidence that the weather can worsen or better the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (or any of the other forms of arthritis). And lack of scientific evidence should not be substituted with stereotypes. What to do if you’re struggling to cope with the stigmas and stereotypes. If you’re living with rheumatoid arthritis, there are ways that you can tackle the effects that stereotypes and stigmas might be having on you. Try practicing the following three tips: Be mindful in your daily life. Understand the condition better. Talk to someone about it. Being mindful. When you’re living with a chronic condition, practicing daily mindfulness can have a huge impact on your overall quality of life. The National Institute of Mental Health recognizes that people with chronic illnesses – like RA – are more likely to experience mental health problems. That’s why it’s important to make sure that even if you are living with unpleasant symptoms, that you continue to practise mindfulness and appreciate the joys of life. We asked Tuukka, a coach in the Sidekick RA program, what’s something that he wished people knew about managing their RA: He said: “I wish people knew that, besides a good medication plan and regular support from your healthcare team, your own lifestyle choices can help manage disease symptoms.” For many people, mindfulness can have a huge impact on their overall quality of life. You can read more about the benefits of mindfulness and stress reduction right here. There can be many emotional and mental health implications to living with arthritis. As we learn from Emily’s story, it can impact your ability to maintain a steady social life or limit your independence: “I couldn’t do much with my friends anymore socially. My condition meant that they’d have to come over to my house or I’d have to go to theirs. If I did actually end up going somewhere with them it meant I’d have to take a different journey. They would usually take the bus or train. I couldn’t do this because of the walk to and from the station. My mum would have to drive me, which doesn’t seem like a huge deal, but I still felt I missed out in some way.” If you’re living with arthritis, it’s important that you look after your mental health. Sidekick’s RA program features a wealth of mindfulness content and even comes with mindfulness reminders. Your Sidekick can help you to stop, breathe, and appreciate the present moment. Another good idea is to try planning your days in advance. That way, you can prepare yourself for situations that may cause you distress. This could help to minimize stress and reduce the chance of your RA acting up. Being mindful is an important part of learning how to accept a chronic condition. At first, Emily found it very difficult to accept the new limitations on her life, especially at the age of thirteen. In her interview with Sidekick, she said: “Most days, my mum had to help me get dressed, help me in and out of the bath as the handrail wasn’t enough, wash and brush my hair, and even help me walk around the house. Now, at the age of 24, sometimes I still have to get her to help me with these things. Luckily, I’ve learned to accept my condition and my limitations now.” It’s important to look beyond your symptoms at the many joys and wonders of life. We know this can be tricky at times, but your RA Sidekick is there to help. Understanding the condition. A lot of people living with RA have a fear of the unknown because they don’t know how their condition will progress. Understanding your RA and your triggers can help you live better with your condition and its symptoms. Francis Bacon said that ‘knowledge is power’. This is definitely true when it comes to fighting off the stigmas and stereotypes associated with RA. If you understand your condition and what’s happening to your body, you’re less likely to be affected by what other people tell you – whether that’s putting ice on your hands, cracking your knuckles, or banging pots and pans. Get to know your condition so you can confidently set the record straight for others. Talking with someone. “Luckily, I have a great support network – including my family, friends, and fiance – who are able to empathize with me and listen to me when I need to talk about things.” Emily, 24. Family and friends can be a calming cure for stress when you’re dealing with your RA. It’s important that those around you also understand the realities of your condition, so that they can provide you with the support you need. By explaining to family and friends the nature of your condition, you’re giving them the tools they need to support you in a sensitive, caring, and loving way. It’s really important for friends and family to fully understand what you are going through. As well as family and friends, it’s important to make sure that people at work, or anyone else you’re frequently in contact with, are aware of how your condition might affect you: whether that’s physically, emotionally, or mentally. Looking beyond friends, family and colleagues, there are also countless RA support groups online (and in person) where you can meet people going through a similar experience. You can find support groups on Facebook and other social media networks. Talking with people who are living through the same experience can be both incredibly empowering and comforting. If you’re living with rheumatoid arthritis, why not explore some of out other RA articles? Discover how to manage your condition at home and on the go or check out these inspiring interviews with real people living with RA. “Life can definitely be cruel, but it can also be beautiful.” Emily, 24, who lives with RA

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Our Guide to Supporting a Loved One With Eczema

By Atopic Dermatitis, Caregivers, Emotional support, Health Conditions, Mindfulness / SelfcareNo Comments

When providing care to someone living with a skin condition like eczema, it can sometimes be hard to know exactly what they need, especially if you don’t fully understand the condition yourself. We’ve put together a guide to help you support your loved one with eczema. We know it can be tough. That’s why we´re here to help. We’ll talk you through everything you need to know about living with eczema. Your support is invaluable to your loved one, but we know you’ll need a little help sometimes too. Supporting a loved one with eczema. From dealing with physical pain and sleepless nights to having body confidence issues, people living with eczema (Atopic Dermatitis) often have a lot going on. But so can the people who live with them. Eczema caregivers share their loved ones’ highs and help them through their lows. Caregivers also experience the worry, fret, and panic that comes with the condition. We understand that the effects of eczema are not limited to those that live with it. As an eczema caregiver, it’s totally okay to feel overwhelmed sometimes. Supporting a loved one with eczema is difficult. It’s okay if you’re struggling with it. “When my loved one developed really severe eczema, his whole body was covered in
weeping welts which he would constantly rub and scratch. His eczema was so bad people would stare at him and ask what had happened to him. Sometimes we were actually avoided by people, and people would stand at a distance if we were in a queue. This broke my heart as people were making judgments about him without even asking what was wrong. This made me incredibly angry and sad. He was exactly the same as everybody else; he just had really sore skin.” Annabel, eczema caregiver. Many people who support someone with eczema ask themselves: How can I support my loved one who has a condition I haven’t experienced? To help answer this question, we’ll talk you through eczema symptoms and triggers and the best ways to help your loved one deal with them. Holding the hand of your loved one with eczema can really make a difference to their overall
quality of life. So, where to start? The first and most important thing to be aware of is the importance of a healthy and consistent skincare routine. Help your loved one stay on top of things like:
● Moisturizing their skin twice a day, even when it looks and feels good! (This is easier said than done, so your support will be needed)
● Taking shorter showers or baths to avoid skin drying out
● Patting skin dry rather than rubbing with a towel
● Avoiding irritants that are known triggers for a flare-up
Then, make sure you’re aware of the many different symptoms – both physical and emotional – that people with eczema might face. Know the symptoms. Did you know that people who have eczema are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety? It can also be more challenging for people with eczema to focus on their social life, which can lead to problems with friends and family members. Some people with eczema may have body confidence issues that can prevent them from taking part in certain activities, or the symptoms of their eczema might impact their mood and mental wellbeing. These are just some of the broader symptoms people with eczema face that might not be immediately obvious. It’s important to remember that everyone’s eczema is unique. Different things affect different people in different ways, and triggers vary from person to person.Some of the most common symptoms of eczema include:
● Dry and/or itchy skin, which can sometimes appear as red rashes
● Bumps on the skin
● Crusty or flakey skin
● Skin pain
● Oozing skin
● Bleeding skin
If your loved one finds themself giving in to the itch, they may end up stuck in an itch-scratch cycle. This can often lead to:
● Problems sleeping – people with eczema can experience disturbed sleep because of nighttime itching, which can also have knock-on health effects
● Lack of energy – generally feeling more tired – it takes a lot of energy for someone’s skin to constantly have to regenerate
● Lack of productivity at work/school
● Restlessness
● Low self-esteem
● Anxiety
● Depression
Not all eczema is visible, and you might not know how much discomfort a person is in. Some people feel embarrassed to talk about their eczema and how it affects them, so make sure you’re delicate when broaching the subject. Always make an effort to be kind and supportive. Empathy is an essential part of supporting a loved one with eczema. Listen to what they have to say and try to give them as much emotional support as possible. One way to show someone that you understand what they’re going through is by rephrasing
what they’ve said back to them. For example, when your loved one says, “my eczema is really bad at the moment,” try responding with something like, “I’m really sorry to hear that. I
can imagine it’s difficult. Let me know what I can do to help.” You could also try offering them help with day-to-day tasks to make their lives a little easier. A simple act like this can make your loved one feel heard and seen. Also, make an active effort to check on their overall wellbeing – asking them questions shows that you care. Help identify triggers. Eczema is a chronic condition that can’t be cured entirely. Scientists also aren’t sure exactly what causes it because so many factors are at play. However, it is known that genetics play a big role. There are many things that people living with eczema can do to manage their symptoms better. Working with your loved one to identify their eczema triggers will be vital throughout their healthcare journey. A trigger refers to something that causes eczema to flare-up. Sometimes, it can be tricky to identify what triggers or causes eczema, while sometimes, the cause is more obvious. For example, some people are allergic to dust or feathers, and other people are not. Just like we said, everyone’s eczema is unique. By helping your loved one identify what triggers their eczema, you can help them manage their symptoms. Common eczema triggers may include:
● Irritants such as soap, perfume, or cosmetic products
● Environmental factors – for example, cold or dry weather; dampness; pets; pollens,
dust mites, molds, and cigarette smoke
● Stress and stressors
● Sleep deprivation
● Confirmed allergies
● Materials – such as wool, synthetic fabrics, and certain metals- including chromium cobalt, chloride, copper, nickel
● Skin infections
It’s important to remember that even though these things are common reasons for eczema, there are many factors that doctors may be unaware of. Helping your loved one track their symptoms to try and figure out what’s causing an eczema flare-up can be an important preventative measure that can lead to a better quality of life. Be cautious of telling your loved one that they have eczema because of their habits: don’t try and blame someone for the state of their skin – even if you think they’re doing something wrong. Remember that empathy is key to success. Listen to their problems and show them you understand. Sidekick’s Eczema Program can help your loved one identify their eczema triggers and empower them to break the itch-scratch cycle. Make changes around the house. According to Dr. Natasha Harper, “lifestyle factors can strongly influence atopic dermatitis.”
Therefore, “the optimal care of atopic dermatitis is holistic in nature.” This means that lifestyle factors heavily influence eczema and how it affects the body. Making some simple changes around the house can have a huge impact on reducing the symptoms of eczema. Here are some things you can do that might help your loved one
manage their eczema symptoms on a day-to-day basis: Reduce dust levels by replacing carpets and keeping the house clean. In the case of a dust mite allergy, removing carpets can majorly reduce the symptoms of atopic eczema. Carpets gather a lot of dust which can be a major trigger for eczema. If you can’t remove the carpet for any reason, make sure you clean it regularly to reduce exposure to dust. Dust levels can also be reduced by regularly vacuuming or washing any other fabrics which might get dusty, like drapes, the couch, and sheets. Maintain good indoor air quality. Improving inside air quality is also important when living with eczema. Some people find that
their skin can be irritated by hot and dry air (especially when combined with dust). There’s a lot that can be done to adjust the quality of air indoors, such as keeping good
ventilation around the house by regularly opening the windows and letting in the fresh air. A lack of ventilation can also lead to the growth of mold, and mold is a known eczema
trigger. So, be sure to open those windows- even in winter! Remove pets. We know this can be difficult, but pets – especially those with fur and feathers – can be
triggers for people who live with eczema. This is because pet dander (or flakes of dead skin cells) are a common flare-up trigger for people with eczema. Change laundry detergent
If your loved one is dealing with irritation due to detergents, make sure you use a dermatologically proven detergent when doing laundry. Generally speaking, avoid anything
fragranced. The chemicals used to make fragrances often irritate the skin and can lead to eczema flare-ups. Be mindful of the products you use. If you share a bed with someone who has eczema, the products you use to wash your hair and body can affect their skin. Many shampoos contain a chemical called Cocamidopropyl betaine, a known skin irritant for people with eczema. Try changing the products you apply to your hair. Many articles are available online to help you find the best eczema-friendly shampoos.
Practice compassion. Living with an incurable itch and chronic condition is difficult. Naturally, there will be times when your loved one’s eczema will have a big impact on their mood. There may be days when they feel frustrated, down, or anxious. People in a relationship need to accept that their loved one with eczema might – at times – be struggling to find their zen. One of the best ways that you can help is by showing empathy. Talk with them and try to show them that you understand and care. Remind them that they should not be ashamed of their condition or the mood it brings them. Provide support at check-ups. People with eczema, especially if they are stressed or depressed, might be reluctant to visit
a doctor. But a doctor can prescribe steroid creams which can be a great short-term solution for an eczema flare-up. Some people living with eczema might be too embarrassed or scared to go and see their doctor. That’s where you come in. It’s great for someone with eczema to have a loved one holding their hand, reminding them that asking for help is the right thing to do. Join online support groups. There are lots of existing online support groups on social media for people who live with eczema: like this eczema support Facebook Group. People share their stories, experiences, and tips to help with day-to-day life, including new treatments and medicines. Sometimes, it’s good to know that there are others like you who can turn to for help and advice. If you need a Sidekick on your caregiver journey, encourage your loved one to check out the Atopic Dermatitis program from Sidekick Health. The program features educational material to help people living with eczema understand their condition and identify their triggers. It also encourages daily mindfulness practices and medication reminders to help your loved one take back control of their health. Supporting a loved one with eczema can be a challenge, and it’s okay if you sometimes find it hard, stressful, or overwhelming. Your Sidekick is here to help. Read our brochure on the Sidekick Health website or get the app now.

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