What Is A Stress Rash And Effective Ways To Deal With It

Reviewed by Dr. Ameesha Mahajan

Dermatologist | M.D - Skin & VD, MBBS

Written by Sanya HamdaniSep 16, 2023
 What is a stress rash and effective ways to deal with it

Stress is a part of every individual's life, these days almost everyone is affected by it. The degree or severity of the stress may differ from one person to another, but a stress-free life is non-existent. The body’s reaction to this stress also differs. When we are emotionally disturbed, it can also have an impact on our physical health. According to renowned dermatologist Dr. Ameesha Mahajan of RM Aesthetics, “While stress is something we feel emotionally, it can have a significant impact on our physical health. Apart from high blood pressure, palpitations, headaches, fatigue, breathing and gut disorders, our skin also shows symptoms of stress.”

That’s right, stress rash is real and it can develop when you are stressed with no control over it. If you are reading about stress rashes for the first time, let us tell you that it is common. If you often get unexplained rashes on your body and you keep blaming a skincare product, climate change or a food you ate, it might be possible that it’s a result of stress. So, what exactly is it and how do you deal with a stress rash? We will tell you all about it in this article.


What causes stress rash?

FAQs about stress rash

Stress rash usually happens to those who already have a skin condition like eczema or psoriasis. It can get triggered by external factors too, like pollen, food, animal dander and even climatic changes. Although uncommon, stress rash can also develop when you don’t have any of these skin conditions. When you are stressed, your body releases chemicals that cause your skin to become sensitive and inflamed, leading to flare-ups. To understand whether your rash is a result of a skin condition, an allergy or stress, you need to consult an expert. They will run some tests to determine the cause behind the problem.


Effects of stress on skin

FAQs about stress rash

Stress can trigger or aggravate multiple skin conditions like psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, acne, eczemas and alopecia areata. Who could imagine that stress, which is a mental state of mind, can actually make you itch and give you a host of skin diseases? It has also been seen that due to stress and anxiety, the itching is also more when compared to someone who is not stressed.

Hives are another common effect of stress on the skin. An outbreak of hives can be a result of stress. These are small, red coloured spots that can appear on any part of the body. The area may feel itchy and can sometimes also be associated with a tingling or burning sensation. Stress triggers your blood vessels and causes them to expand or leak, the result is swollen patches of skin that are red in colour. Exposing your skin to warm temperatures or consumption of alcohol and caffeine can worsen this problem.


What does a stress rash look like?

FAQs about stress rash

Stress rash is a kind of urticaria or hives which is induced by stress. It presents as pinkish to red, raised areas of swollen spots. They can appear anywhere on the skin and can be a few mm in size to many cms large. Unlike other urticaria, stress rash doesn’t cause the area around eyes and lips to get inflammed. It is extremely itchy and associated with a burning or tingling sensation.


How to treat stress rash?

FAQs about stress rash

Avoid scratching the area:

Yes, your skin will feel itchy and you would want to scratch it to feel better, but don’t do that, as it will only make your condition worse. It will transfer bacteria from your hands and nails to the affected area and slow down the treatment process.

Give it time:

Sometimes the best way to treat a stress rash is to give it some time. It can subside on its own within minutes or within a few hours, so don’t panic. Home treatments such as cool compresses and ice packs can help relieve the swelling and itching associated with it.

Over the counter medicine:

If it doesn’t get better within a few hours, you can take any over the counter antihistamine tablet such as Cetirizine or apply calamine lotion. This should calm the stress rash and bring you some relief.

Visit a doctor:

If your rash does not subside within a week, or your symptoms get worse, it's best to consult a dermatologist for proper evaluation and to rule out any other cause like drug allergy, infections, etc., which need a different line of treatment.


Is there a way to prevent stress rash?

FAQs about stress rash

Stress is simply the body’s reaction to a situation where you feel out of control. It can range from being overwhelmed to feeling a lot of anxiety. If you develop a stress rash, it may be a sign that you need to actively manage stress in your life, whether it is related to a job, relationships, finances or any other factors. We can never be in absolute control of our situations, but we can definitely try to distract ourselves from situations that trigger it. While stress is constant, you need to find ways to manage it better in order to ensure it doesn’t affect your body. Here are a few ways to calm a stressed mind.


Ways to prevent a stress rash

FAQs about stress rash

Exercise or meditate:

One of the best ways to manage stress is to exercise, do yoga or meditate. It calms your mind and relaxes your body by reducing the stress hormone called cortisol. This also lowers the risk of heart attack and relieves depression.

Catch up with a friend:

Sometimes talking it out helps, catch up with a friend and go for a walk or have some coffee. Talk about the problems that are bothering you, or just distract yourself from it completely and do something fun.

Listen to music or read a book:

Listening to feel-good songs or reading a positive book can relax your body as well as lower your heart rate. A 2009 study at the University of Sussex found that reading can reduce stress by up to 68%. So if you are looking for ways to prevent stress rashes, it could be as simple as this.

Take a vacation:

Going away from your usual setting for a few days can calm your mind and relax your body. It’s always a good idea to take a vacation and go to a different city or country to reduce stress.


FAQs about stress rash

FAQs about stress rash

1) How common are stress rashes?

A. Stress rashes are quite common and anyone can develop them. While those with skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis are more prone to it, sometimes those who have no history of these conditions can also develop a rash when they are stressed.

2) Can you get stress rashes from anxiety?

A. Stress and anxiety rashes are the same, they look like hives and can appear on any part of your body. These red blotchy spots can be small or cover a big area of your skin. They are usually itchy and an individual can get a burning sensation when they touch it. In order to reduce anxiety or stress rashes, try activities that are known to reduce stress such as meditation, walking, reading, listening to music, etc.

3) Are stress rashes contagious?

A. Stress rashes develop in the form of hives and these are not contagious. If someone in your family or a friend has developed a stress rash, you can take care of them without worrying that it might affect you. In fact, make efforts to reduce their stress so they can recover from the problem soon.

Sanya Hamdani

Written by

Sanya Hamdani is a skincare enthusiast and lipstick hoarder, she truly believes no two red lipsticks look exactly alike. With a Master's degree in Communication & Journalism and 5+ years of digital writing experience up her sleeve, Sanya has some of the biggest beauty experts in the country on her speed dial. When she's not swatching products or writing about the latest trends in beauty, you will find her watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S. or cooking up a storm in the kitchen.


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