An introduction for carers 

Caring for someone with a skin condition can be very challenging, and the emotional impact for both carer and the person they are supporting can be significant. This section should help explain some of the pressures faced by the people we care for, as well as practical tips on what can be done for them, suggestions regarding emotional support, and how to manage your own stress and mental health.


Being a carer

Being a carer is often a huge responsibility, particularly since the people we are looking after often have some form of disease or illness. It is important that we understand what our role entails, and to manage our own stress levels and mental health.

A good place to start is to talk to the person you are caring for, to make sure that you understand how they think you can best help them, so there aren’t any misunderstandings. An important aspect of this is learning what you can about the skin disease of the person you are looking after; plenty of information about specific conditions can be found in our ‘A-Z of Conditions’ page. Once you have a better understanding of the condition you can keep an eye out for potential triggers, or flare-ups that can make the condition that much worse. Carers can also be vital in making sure that the people they are caring for stick with their treatments.

It is also important to build up an understanding of the treatment pathways available - for example, is the person we are caring for taking over-the-counter treatments? Should they be seeing their GP, or a dermatologist? And how can they get the most out of these consultations? You can visit the ‘Your skin condition and your doctor’ section of this website to learn more about this.

If you think that the person you are caring for is in need of emotional support then you should consider talking to them about making an appointment to discuss the issue with their GP. You could also encourage them to try exercises on this website, such as a guided meditation.


Managing your own mental health

Managing our own mental health is very important for our wellbeing and for the wellbeing of the person we are caring for. It is easy when you are so involved in looking after someone who has health problems to forget about your own problems, such as stress building up.

Mindfulness is a good place to start. Mindfulness refers to a state of mind where you pay close attention to the present moment – to the external environment around you, your internal thoughts and feelings, and your physical sensations. It is about being present in the moment, noticing - but not judging or trying to alter - how you feel.

By finding time to practice mindfulness, often in the form of meditation, you can learn to focus on your feelings and thoughts, which should help you keep on top of your mental health needs. This is even an exercise that can be practised with the person you are caring for. To find out more about mindfulness you can visit the ‘Mindfulness and meditation’ section of our website.

If you feel that you are getting to a point where you cannot cope anymore with stress, low mood or your mental health, then you should talk to a professional at the earliest possible opportunity. If you need immediate help then you can contact Samaritans 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 116 123. If you would prefer to write down your thoughts you can email Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org. Otherwise you can make an appointment with your GP to discuss your mental health.


Caring for young people

Caring for young people with skin conditions can be very challenging; there are unique challenges such as making sure their condition is managed at school, coping with potential judgement or bullying from their peers, and ensuring their skin condition does prevent them from taking part in the activities that they love.

The Royal Society of Psychiatrists have a number of information leaflets on caring for young people with health conditions, and on depression and mental health issues in young children. Links to these leaflets can be found at the bottom of this page.


Young carers

Young carers are children under 18 who look after a relative with a health condition or disability. Being a young carer is a lot of responsibility and can take a toll both emotionally and on their life outside of caring, particularly in terms of relationships and education.

There are a number of charities that provide emotional support and advice for young carers including YoungMinds, Carers UK, and NHS Choices, which provides information on young carers’ rights. You can also call the Carers Direct phone line on 0300 123 1053.

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