Stress rash

In this fast moving world, we all deal with different kinds of stress on a regular basis and stress can affect our health in a more noticeable way. Our emotional health can get affected in case we feel stressed out and stress sometimes bring physical changes as well in our body which includes rashes as well which can amplify the stress. Thankfully, a rash occurred due to stress is not a major concern and in fact it can be treated easily at home as well. IN case you have a preexisting skin condition like psoriasis or rosacea, then you might have worsens stress symptoms in your body. If this arises then stress is considered a trigger and you need to take precautions to control it.

Stress rash visibility

Stress rashes usually appear in the form of hives which are also known as wheals or welts. Hives can appear on any part of the body and the parts that are affected by hives gets red in color and usually get swollen with the passage of time. The size of these blotchy areas varies from person to person, sometimes it is as small as a tip of a pencil and sometimes it is larger like a plate as well. Even in some cases, these connect to form even larger welts and the size of these wheals differs from person to person. The size of these wheals varies from a centimeter to big patches which sometimes even cover the major part of your skin as well.

Hives sometimes also appear as general skin swelling which later gets spread to other parts of the body as well. This section of swelling sometimes disappears on its own and sometimes appears automatically on the skin. Areas that get affected by hives will become pain full and sometimes it also results in developing a feeling of burning sensation, especially when you touch the affected areas. A single hive mostly fades within 24 hours but in case you have multiple hives, then there are chances that you might face these symptoms for at least 4-6 weeks.

Though there are lesser chances that your symptoms will continue for six weeks and in case this kind of situation arises, then your hives are considered chronic.

Why does stress rashes arise?

Hives arise mainly due to your immune system reaction to allergies, though there are many other factors as well that causes the occurrence of these hives. Some other factors which result in these Hives include viral infection, other kinds of illness, environmental changes etc. Stress is considered to be an environmental trigger. Some of the common food allergens include:

  • nuts
  • peanuts
  • cow’s milk
  • soy
  • eggs
  • wheat
  • seafood

Some other kinds of allergens include pollen, pet dander, and sometimes medications as well like penicillin. Other environmental triggers that cause these hives include:

  • hot and cold temperatures
  • sunlight
  • water
  • exercise

Whenever we feel stressed, it is common that our body feels certain changes; this is mainly due to the fact our body releases additional chemicals, like neuropeptides and neurotransmitters, at the time we feel stressed. The chemicals released by our body changes the way our body responds to various functions which in turn results in inflammation, sensitivity, and some other kind of other discomfort to the skin.

Treating stress rash

Sometimes hives disappear automatically without undergoing any kind of treatment and in most of the cases, where these hives don’t disappear on its own, people treat them at home. One of the most common ways to treat hives is an over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamine which is used in getting a relief from symptoms such as itching.

Common OTC antihistamines include:

  • diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
  • cetirizine (Zyrtec)
  • fexofenadine (Allegra)
  • loratadine (Claritin)

Sometimes you will also find relief in case you use a cool compress on the affected areas. Soaking in a cool bath or sometimes taking a cool shower as well gives an instant relief to people. In case you are experiencing the symptoms even after six weeks, then you need to consult your doctor at the earliest to avoid further trouble. Hives that continue appearing after six weeks as well are considered chronic and needs doctor assistance to get relief from them. Your doctor might advise you some of the following ways to treat severe or chronic hives:

  • prescription-strength antihistamines
  • corticosteroids, such as prednisone (Deltasone)
  • antibiotics, such as dapsone
  • Injectable kind of medication, like omalizumab (Xolair)
  • other medications that help in fighting redness and swelling

In case there is no relief from the symptoms and you are experiencing swelling on the lips or face, difficulty in breathing, or wheezing, then you need medical attention at the earliest otherwise the case make become difficult to treat in the future. Untreated cases can create life-threatening complications in the future and you might need an epinephrine shot for treatment in the future to get a relief. If your rash is tied to a preexisting condition like psoriasis or rosacea, then get in touch with your doctor who will evaluate your current treatment regimen and will give the best medical treatment after making appropriate adjustments in your plan.

What else could this rash be?

It is quite common that people get confused between a stress rash and other kinds of skin conditions including:

  • heat rash
  • pityriasis rosea
  • rosacea
  • contact dermatitis
  • eczema

Heat rash

In case you live or work at a hot or humid place, then there are higher chances that you might experience heat rash. In most of the cases, it happen when the pores get blocked making it difficult for sweat to move out of your body. Some of the most common causes of heat rash include miliaria crystallina, clear or white bumps. Miliaria rubra sometimes results in small red bumps that itch similar to hives. Unlike some cases of hives, in most of the cases heat rash disappear on their own and within a few days only, they disappear. You must talk to your doctor if start experiencing chills, fever, pain, pus coming from the bumps

Pityriasis rosea

Pityriasis rosea is another type of rash that also disappears on its own; the rash which starts with a large patch of red, raised skin gets disappeared with the passage of time. Known as “mother patch” or “herald patch” this kind of rash gets surrounded by small red bumps known as daughter patches and they are mostly oval in shape. Many a times, they are also being referred as a Christmas tree rash. Though the exact cause of this kind of rash is not clear bit it is most common during the spring and fall. It can be itchy or not, totally defers from person to person. This kind of rash normally fades without undergoing any kind of treatment for the same, but still it takes at least six to eight weeks to get a relief. The patients can take an OTC anti-itch medication such as diphenhydramine or cetirizine to make the symptoms less troubling.

But in case symptoms are getting worsen with time, then instead of waiting long, you can consult your doctor to get the best advice and cure to it. Your doctor will recommend a prescription-strength anti-itch medication to get some relief.


Rosacea is also a common skin condition which results in discomfit, depending upon the type of the skin, it results in small, red and in some cases pus-filled bumps that appear on the skin. The skin closer to these areas get thickens. These kinds of rashes mostly cover cheeks, nose, and forehead but in some cases it also gets appear on other areas of the face. It takes few weeks to months before they disappear. Though rosacea can affect anyone and everyone, but middle-aged women who have fair skin have higher chances of rosacea. There is no cure to treat rosacea, so it is important to take preventions that can lower the changes of its appearance. People can wear broad-spectrum sunscreen and moisturizing frequently.

In case you are experiencing rosacea, then consult your doctor and he/she will diagnosis the case and will give you the medication accordingly aimed at reducing redness from the skin.

Some of the prescription medications which are advised by your doctor include:

  • brimonidine (Mirvaso)
  • azelaic-acid (Azelex)
  • metronidazole (Metrogel)

While there are many oral antibiotics as well which you can take to lower the discomfit level:

  • doxycycline (Monodox)
  • tetracycline (Diabecline)
  • minocycline (Minocin)

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is an acute condition which results in redness, itchy rash that start appearing on the skin. Sometimes people also experience bumps or blisters, swelling, and tenderness. The main cause of dermatitis varies is not the same in all people, though there are higher chances that it will develops after coming into contact with something that triggers nonallergic irritation or in case of any kind of allergic reaction on your skin.

Some of the most common causes of it include:

  • soaps
  • shampoos
  • cosmetics
  • fragrances
  • jewelry
  • plants, such as poison ivy
  • lotions
  • laundry detergent

it is beneficial it you identify the exact cause of your contact dermatitis so that preventive steps can be taken accordingly, but there are still many steps which you can take to cure general rash. Some of the common ways of curing rash include:

  • you can apply anti-itch glucocorticosteroid cream or calamine lotion
  • you can take OTC anti-itch medication like diphenhydramine
  • soaking in a cool oatmeal bath
  • Avoid scratching your skin
  • Use mild soaps that don’t have dyes or perfumes added into them

In case you are still experiencing same symptoms even after one to two weeks, then it is recommended to consult your doctor who will diagnose you properly before giving any kind of medication to you.


Eczema is another chronic condition which results in making your skin red and itchy. This kind of situation mostly occur among children, but still there is no evidence supporting that none of the other person will gets affected by it. Eczema mostly starts as small, raised bumps which discharge some kind of fluid, if scratched. These rashes sometimes also form thickened areas of the skin which are known as plaques over a larger area. People might experience red patches around:

  • hands or wrists
  • feet or ankles
  • neck
  • upper chest
  • eyelids
  • face, especially the cheeks
  • scalp
  • ears
  • elbow crease
  • knees, generally on the back

You can control your symptoms in case:

  • you start applying an anti-itch glucocorticosteroid cream or calamine lotion
  • or start taking an oral anti-itch medication like diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
  • moisture your body twice in a day
  • taking an oatmeal bath
  • using a humidifier

Refer to your doctor in case you are still experiencing these symptoms for more than one to two weeks. You can get a relief by taking prescribed medication referred to you by your doctor.

When to see your doctor

If you are experiencing bumps that are itchy, inflamed, swollen and making your feel discomfort able then it’s the time that you pay a visit to your doctor. Also, in case these hives are getting cured by at home then you need to take proper medical treatment to get rid of them. You need to consult your doctor in case you have:

  • a rash over your whole body
  • fever and pain
  • blisters that leak yellow or green fluid

Also, contact your doctor in case you suspect that the rash is caused by an allergen as there are many allergic reactions which results in anaphylaxis and need immediate medical attention.

Rash caused due to stress

If your rash arises due to stress, then you need to make significant changes in your daily routine activities and should follow a healthy lifestyle to get rid of all kinds of rashes. There are many different ways which can help you to ease your mind and feel relaxed which include:

  • Therapy, also start practicing meditation or yoga
  • Make sure that you are exercising regularly

Once you identify what all techniques will work to make you feel relaxed and comfortable, you can bid good bye to stress and lead a healthy and happy life without experiencing any kind of rashes as well.


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