Stress has become such an intrinsic part of our lives that it’s hard to imagine a stress-free day. At least that’s what I believe is happening these days. Wherever I look or whomever I talk with, I get the feeling that no one is without stress. Whether it’s day-to-day stress or stress about something major as a career change, it’s begun to bleed into our lives and manifest in psychological as well as physical changes.
One of the most underrated physical manifestations of stress that I’ve come across recently is stress rash or stress hives. I know! You might wonder; how can stress cause rash; but it’s true. When stress can manifest itself as headaches, fatigue, and more, why can’t it come in the form of a rash?
Stress rash may not sound like an urgent symptom, but it’s a condition that can be quite distressing and uncomfortable. In this article, I’ve compiled an all-you-need-to-know guide about stress rash, what causes it, and how you can treat unwelcome symptoms of stress-induced rashes and hives.
What is Stress Rash?
Stress rash is a skin condition that can be described as having red, itchy, and raised skin (like hives). When you’re struggling with frequent stress episodes or living with chronic stress, then this condition can occur. Usually, stress rash is a response to heightened emotional stress and can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, etc.
Stress rash can appear anywhere on your body, but it mostly appears on either your arms, face, neck, or chest. These stress hives can also trigger any other pre-existing skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis.
Symptoms of Stress Rash
If stress rash is something you’re familiar with but are unsure if you get stress rash, then perhaps knowing how they occur and what they look like might help you. One of the most common symptoms of stress rashes is the sudden appearance of red and itchy skin.
When you develop these rashes, you may notice that parts of your body appear red, often accompanied by tingling or burning sensations. These stress rashes may last for a few hours to days. In many cases, a stress rash can cause excessive swelling, trouble breathing, or trigger an allergic reaction.
What Causes Stress Rash?
Stress rash occurs as a result of your body’s stress response. When you are stressed, your body releases chemicals such as cortisol and histamine that can cause inflammation in the skin. Sometimes, the cause of a stress rash may vary from person to person, but some common causes include;
Presence of intense emotions such as anxiety, fear, chronic stress
Exposure to allergens combined with a stressful environment or situation
Having pre-existing skin conditions such as eczema
Stress rash can, without doubt, affect your physical health but did you know that this skin condition caused by stress can have psychological effects as well? While the visible evidence of stress can cause embarrassment and self-consciousness, it can also impact your self-esteem. Chronic stress can also contribute to even more stress and anxiety, worsening your symptoms of stress and anxiety rash.
How to Treat Stress-Induced Rash?
Don’t worry! There are ways you can treat stress rash and ease the uncomfortable symptoms. Here are some easy ways to cope with stress hives and rashes;
Practice Stress Management: Having stress management techniques on hand such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, and relaxing hobbies can help you control stress and ultimately reduce the frequency of stress rash or stress hives.
Regular Skincare: If you find yourself with an itch, then you can try caring for your skin regularly. You can start by applying cold compresses or taking cool baths to reduce the itching and burning sensation that often accompanies stress rash. Also, try to avoid products that can harm or irritate your skin further.
Control Your Triggers: If you’re unsure about where the stress rash is coming from, then you can try keeping track of your triggers. When you know what triggers your stress or stress rash, then you can avoid them or manage them accordingly to prevent stress rash. You can also share this record with your therapist. They can further help you understand how to take care of yourself and control your triggers without antagonizing your condition.
Seek Help: Talking to a professional can provide you with information about what to do to manage stress effectively and its physical manifestations. A therapist can offer you strategies and approaches such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to address the causes of stress and reduce the impact of stress on your body and mind.
Medications: In some severe cases, medications can be prescribed to ease the uncomfortable effects of a stress rash and manage stress. It is highly recommended that you speak with your physician before taking any medication as some medications can have side effects that can further worsen your condition and symptoms.
Stress rash is one of the physical manifestations of how stress can affect our body and mind. While stress has become an unavoidable part of our life, it has started to affect our bodies and physical health. If you’re living with chronic stress or work in highly stressful environments, then you can be more susceptible to stress rash.
Knowing the signs, causes, and effects of stress rash can help you effectively manage stress. Using stress management techniques such as deep breathing, relaxation exercises, having a good skincare routine, and seeking help from a professional when needed can help you cope with stress rash and manage uncomfortable and unwelcome symptoms.
Note: If medications, stress relief activities, and home remedies for stress rash don’t work on you, then it is recommended that you speak to a dermatologist. Skin conditions such as stress rash can disrupt your schedule, affect your sleep, and can cause infections. Consult a professional if the stress-induced rash has become challenging to manage.
I hope this article helped you understand what is stress rash or stress hives, how stress causes hives, and how you can manage stress rash. Let me know what you think about this less-understood skin condition in the comments below.