Everything You Need To Know About Stress Rashes
According to the American Psychological Association, this past year has been the most stressful in many Americans lifetimes, with about 78% of surveyed Americans saying the pandemic is a significant source of stress in their lives.
Stress manifests in different ways on an individual, but for many, it can appear on the skin.
The skin is the largest organ on the human body.
It protects your inner organs from the external environment, but sometimes it can become irritated resulting in a skin rash.
Rashes may be caused by a number of things, including allergies, fungus, viral or bacterial infections, as well as heat.
Stress is also a contributor to rashes and other skin conditions.
While most common rashes are not considered dangerous, a stress rash may be uncomfortable.
The good news is, a rash may be managed and contained if you understand its cause and symptoms.
Emotional Effects Of An Anxiety Rash
Anxiety rash may cause people to feel more anxiety or embarrassment, due to the symptoms or appearance of the rash. Although people may try to hide the rash, covering the rash with makeup, lotions, or tight clothing may worsen the rash.
A rash from stress or anxiety usually resolves in 24 hours, and topical treatments may help to reduce the rash and any uncomfortable symptoms.
Focusing on calming techniques and tools to reduce anxiety may help people feel less anxious, and also help to treat the rash.
How To Tell This Rash Is From Anxiety
Unfortunately, it is hard to tell if the rash you are experiencing is directly linked to anxiety. It could be the result of an allergic reaction to a medication, a lotion you are wearing, or a sweat rash. The best way to know for sure if this rash is caused by anxiety is to eliminate all of the other causes that can come from this rash. If you hardly wear lotion, have no food allergies, or have not been out in the sun in a while, you know those are not the causes. You will know that the rash was brought on by anxiety if the rash starts to go away when you manage your anxiety.
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Get Stress Rash Treatment
If over-the-counter antihistamines and hydrocortisone cream arent giving you enough relief from your stress rash, you might want to talk to a doctor about other treatment options. With PlushCare, you can have an online video appointment and save yourself a trip to a doctors office.
After talking with one of our licensed doctors and telling them about your symptoms, medical history, and medications, the doctor will discuss potential treatment options with you. If necessary, they can refer you to a dermatologist specializing in rashes. If you have chronic stress hives, therapy may help you learn how to better handle your stress, which may help eliminate or prevent stress rashes.
PlushCare now provides online therapy our licensed therapists can help teach you ways to manage your stress more successfully. To make an online appointment with a therapist, . You can also get a free consultation by calling 1-800-221-5140 or emailing
Can You Prevent A Stress Rash
The best way to prevent a stress rash is to reduce stress. Stress rashes can be unsightly and embarrassing, so stress reduction is a good first step. You can do this in many different ways such as getting enough sleep every night, avoiding stressors that you can’t control, and using stress management techniques regularly. You can also talk to your stress management specialist about stress reduction therapies such as meditation and yoga.
Exercise is a great way to reduce stress. By exercising regularly you reduce stress by releasing stress-reducing hormones in your brain. Exercise also helps to reduce stress by distracting you from stressors that you may not be able to control. Exercise also burns stress hormones that may be causing a stress rash.
Clothing can affect your stress levels and stress rashes, so it is important to pay attention to your stress levels when you are choosing clothing. For example, tight-fitting clothes may increase stress hormones and lead to a stress rash. Choose soft, breathable fabrics that are not too tight-fitting to help prevent stress rashes.
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Ways To Ease The Effects Of Stress On Your Skin
You probably cant avoid stress completely, but you can try ways to handle it better. Try these approaches:
Using Relaxation To Manage Eczema Stress
When it comes to relaxation and self-care, what works for one person might not work for another. Thankfully there are many options to explore. Practice deep breathing while listening to soothing music or nature sounds. Download a guided meditation app. Enroll in a yoga or tai chi class. Allot a certain amount of time each day to reading a book or cuddling with your pet. Make it a daily habit to stroll along a nature trail. Distract your mind from negative thinking with creative activities to do with your hands, such as writing, painting, knitting, baking or playing video games or chess.
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Cholinergic Hives And Dermatographia
One form, called cholinergic hives, can appear on the skin during times of acute emotional stress in which there is an elevation in body temperature. Another form of stress hives, known as dermatographia, can occur in people who pick or scratch their skin during times of stress. This constant external stimulus – pressure and friction on the skin – can cause an erroneous histamine release, which creates welts or hives.
What Does A Stress Rash Or Stress Hives Look Like
Stress hives usually appear as swollen bumps called welts or wheals. These bumps can cause redness. However, this redness may not show up easily on dark skin. In darker skin, the bumps may look skin-colored or have subtle redness.
When pressed against, stress hives become blanchable, meaning they briefly turn white. A welt is generally small about 1 to 2 centimeters in size but can combine with other welts to create a larger hive. Stress hives often look oval, round, or ring-like but also can take on irregular shapes.
Hives are very itchy. You may feel a tingling or burning sensation as if youve been bitten by mosquitos. In addition, some welts may disappear only to be replaced by new ones within a few hours.
Stress can also provoke flare-ups, or a return of symptoms, if you already have another skin condition, such as:
If youre experiencing these symptoms, call 911 right away for emergency medical attention.
Stress Worsening Existing Conditions
Stress can contribute to flare ups of other skin conditions.
It can also contribute to dyshidrotic eczema, which causes blisters on the hands and feet.
Stress levels may also trigger flares of skin conditions like psoriasis.
Stress is a common trigger for guttate psoriasis, which may cause small, red spots on children and adults with the condition.
How To Reduce Anxiety Rash
To control your rash, you need to control your anxiety. You first need to decrease your anxiety symptoms to increase your chances of any improvement. You can try treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy, deep breathing, anxiety medications, talking to a therapist, and more. Rashes can take a few days to a week to go away. It may also take some time after your anxiety symptoms go away for your skin to relax. It is important to make sure that you are not scratching these bumps or wearing clothes or lotion that can make irritation worse. There are over-the-counter antihistamines like Benadryl, Zyrtec, Allegra, and Claritin. You can also try applying a cool compress on the areas or take a cool shower.
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How To Get Rid Of A Stress Rash And What Else It Could Be
Jennifer is a contributing health writer who has been researching and writing health content with PlushCare for 3 years. She is passionate about bringing accessible healthcare and mental health services to people everywhere.
Leann Poston, M.D.
Leann Poston, M.D.
Leann Poston, M.D. earned her medical degree from the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine. She completed an MBA from Raj Soin College of Business, focusing on healthcare. She is a full-time medical communication writer and educator.
How Do You Treat Stress Rash In The Long
The clue is in the name, you need to work on your stress levels. ‘I definitely recommend speaking with a counsellor or other healthcare professional if your stress rash is persistent,’ says Dr Granite.
‘Other stress reducing options that may help include:’
- any type of exercise, from walking and running to dancing and HIIT
Felton adds that sleep is: ‘Fundamental in helping to stabilise all of our bodys functions from keeping us creative to lowering the cortisol levels induced by stress.
‘Sleep deprivation will have an impact on skins hydration, regeneration and nourishment. Most importantly it can also induce inflammation, which can also cause the appearance of certain skin conditions and diseases.’
If you think your gut, rather than your brain could be stressed out then be sure to try a course of probiotics. Plus: nourish your gut with food rich in prebiotics and probiotics to keep your microbiome happy. Yogurt, kefir, kombucha, fermented food are great to boost your guts protective role, recommends Felton.
Stress rash still persisting, after you’ve checked in with your GP and taken their advice? An appointment with Dr Granite at Mallucci London is £250, while the Lion/ne team offers consultations on skincare products from £35.
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Examples Of Stress Related Skin Problems
Its very difficult to determine the exact cause of itchiness from anxiety without a full examination, because it could be caused by a variety of different factors. But, the most common causes include:
- Stress hives. As previously mentioned, hives are itchy bumps on the body that can be triggered by stress. Anxiety causes a considerable amount of stress on the immune system, so those prone to hives are likely to get them.
- Sweat rash. Anxiety also causes sweating, and sweating can lead to a sweat rash, otherwise known as a heat rash. This type of rash is non-threatening, but can be extremely itchy and may take as long as two weeks or more to disappear.
- Specific triggered itch. Although less common, anxiety also triggers skin conditions that a person already has. Anxiety is known to trigger eczema, herpes, psoriasis, and other skin disorders. None of these is life threatening or dangerous if triggered.
- Worse or heightened sense of itch. Itching and rashes are fairly common experiences in life, even when nothing is the matter. However, if one suffers from anxiety, physical sensations can often feel worse than they would if he/she didnt suffer from anxiety. Thus, its possible that a very light rash that could otherwise be ignored feels much worse, and causes the person to focus on it more.
- Unexplained. Its also possible to experience an itch for reasons that simply cant be explained.
What Causes A Stress Rash
Hives occur when the body releases a compound called histamine in response to an allergen. However, stress can also trigger the release of histamine, resulting in hives, Lee says.
“The stress is often fairly significant and persistent to generate this reaction,” he says.
Stress also increases your heart rate and body temperature, which can cause the skin to become inflamed and red, Lee says. These physical responses to stress can also worsen pre-existing skin conditions, like rosacea, psoriasis, or eczema.
In fact, a 2018 study examining how stress affects the skin of medical students found those who reported the highest levels of stress also showed a variety of skin symptoms, including dandruff, pimples, hair loss, and itchy skin. Of the 1,435 participants, 40% reported experiencing itchy skin and rashes.
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Can You Get A Rash From Stress And Anxiety
Causes, Effects, And Treatments
- Anxiety Rash Defined. A skin rash is one of the less common physiological side effects of anxiety.
- Causes of Anxiety Rash. Anxiety rash is caused most often by persistent tension or stress.
- Effects of Anxiety Rash. Even though most anxiety rashes are minor, they can be quite annoying, especially since their onset can be sudden and unexpected.
When To See A Doctor
If a rash worsens or is not responding to treatment, then people should see their doctor.
People can also see their doctor if anxiety is affecting their day-to-day life, or if anxiety and any symptoms are having a negative effect on a personâs well-being.
A doctor may prescribe topical treatments to relieve symptoms and can suggest a treatment plan for managing anxiety.
A rash can sometimes be a sign of a serious infection or severe allergic reaction. People will need to seek help straight away if they have a rash with any of the following symptoms or features:
- covers most of the body
How Can I Treat A Stress Rash Or Hives Caused By Stress
Luckily, Dr. Nazarian says stress rashes are completely transient, meaning, that they can go away on their own, usually within 24 hours .
But if your stress rash or hives are really stressing you out, Dr. Nazarian and Dr. Jaliman both recommend over-the-counter treatments such as antihistamines like Benadryl or Zyrtec, or a cortisone cream to decrease the inflammation that results in itching. Dr. Nazarian also suggests removing any irritating factors like increased heat or tight-fitting clothes around the area of your stress rash. “Heat is known to be an aggravant, as well as pressure,” Dr. Nazarian says.
If you don’t see any improvements after trying over-the-counter remedies, Dr. Nazarian and Dr. Jaliman recommend taking the time to see a dermatologist, since it could be a sign that something else is going on. “The average person can totally misdiagnose, so don’t be afraid to seek out a dermatologist,” says Dr. Jaliman.
Also worth nothing: You can work to prevent a stress rash, too, by reducing stress altogether through limiting screen time and social media use, practicing mindfulness, or even taking a walk outside. Your skin will thank you.
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How To Reduce Your Anxiety Rash
The most important thing for you to do is to begin using anxiety reduction techniques to try to control your anxiety. Whether or not your rash is anxiety related, it helps to decrease your anxiety symptoms for a better quality of life. Often rashes themselves create excess anxiety and stress, and this will often make the rash worse.
Some strategies to consider include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
You can read about all of the different anxiety treatments on our anxiety guide.
Control your anxiety, and if anxiety is the cause the rash will eventually go away.
Rashes do not go away automatically, however. They may take a few days to even a week. If the rash is not too disruptive, you may simply need to wait it out. Rashes can come and go for no reason at all, and even after you reduce your anxiety it’s possible for the rash to last for a short time while your skin starts to relax.
Otherwise, general rash treatments tend to be effective, such as allergy pills like Benadryl and rash reducing medications, such as hydrocortisone cream. Talk to your doctor if you would like a specific treatment, especially if you suspect that the rash is caused by something other than anxiety.
Make sure you’re not making your rash worse by continuing to experience stress, scratching the bumps, or wearing clothes/using creams that can cause irritation.
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Why Does Stress Cause Hives
Hives can develop when the immune system releases histamine and other chemicals in response to a threat to your body. Sometimes this threat might be genuine, like an infection. However, sometimes your immune system releases histamine in response to something completely harmless.
Lots of things can trigger this kind of response from your immune system, including certain foods, cold weather and contact with specific materials and substances. According to the NHS, another trigger is the skin becoming very hot and sweaty, which can be caused by exercise, eating spicy foods or experiencing stress.
Does Stress Cause Hives
Yes, and hives are one of the most prevalent stress reactions.
These puffy, raised welts can vary significantly in size, shape, and itchiness. Those with hives usually only experience them for less than 24 hours and go away on their own. You can use over-the-counter antihistamines to reduce itchiness, puffiness, and the overall discomfort of an outbreak.
Hives also trigger due to reactions to a specific medication, food, and other allergens, so its recommended to see your doctor for a diagnosis.
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