How Does Stress Affect The Skin How Does Stress Affect The Skin

How Does Stress Affect The Skin?


Stress can manifest in various physical symptoms, one of which is the emergence of rashes on the skin. To address this, doctors may recommend a cold compress, antihistamines, or steroids to reduce inflammation and its severity.


Stress can manifest in various physical symptoms, one of which is the emergence of rashes on the skin. To address this, doctors may recommend a cold compress, antihistamines, or steroids to reduce inflammation and its severity.


In this article, we look at the factors that can cause stress rashes. We examine how to diagnose these rashes, what treatments are available, and how to prevent them from occurring.

Effects Of Stress On The Skin

Stress is not only an emotional experience, but it can also have physical effects on the body.


Stress can manifest in the skin in several ways, including dryness, breakouts, eczema, psoriasis, and accelerated skin ageing. It is essential to manage stress levels to ensure healthy skin.

Hives Caused By Stress

Stress can cause an eruption of hives, manifesting as a stress rash. This type of rash is caused by the body's release of histamine in response to stress, resulting in red, itchy welts on the skin.


Hives are often itchy and can appear suddenly, often in response to an allergen. They are a type of skin rash and can range from a few millimetres to several centimetres in diameter. Hives can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days.


Hives can cause irritation and discomfort, often accompanied by an intense itch. Sometimes, touching the affected area can cause a stinging or burning sensation.


These hives can develop for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Cold or heat exposure

  • Certain medications, including antibiotics

  • Infection


Hives, an itchy rash, can be caused by an allergen entering the body. For instance, when someone with hay fever experiences pollen, they may experience hives.


Stress can cause a physical response in the body, resulting in an outbreak of hives. This is caused by hormonal or chemical changes that occur due to stress.

Expansion and leakage of blood vessels can be caused by environmental changes, leading to red and swollen patches of skin. These hives can be exacerbated by

  • Ingestion of alcohol or caffeine.

  • Exposure to elevated temperatures.

Stress May Worsen Existing Skin Conditions.

Psoriasis and eczema, two skin conditions, can be exacerbated by stress, preventing them from healing as they should.

When To Seek Help

Rashes that last for a short period, less than six weeks, are considered acute stress rashes. If they last longer, for more than six weeks, they are classified as chronic stress rashes.


In most cases, rashes will go away within a few days. However, if the rashes persist for longer than this, it is essential to see a doctor for further assessment and treatment.


Hives can be a cause of significant discomfort and can take a while to clear up. Therefore, it is essential to seek medical attention to reduce the irritation caused by the hives.


Consequently, while most stress rashes are not severe, it is wise to take steps to manage them to reduce their effects.


Notably, a rash can lead to emotional distress. This emotional distress can increase an individual’s stress levels, further aggravating the rash.


Sometimes, hives may cover the entire body or be accompanied by:

  • Fever

  • Pain

  • Skin peeling or blisters


If this is the case, it may indicate a more serious issue or allergic reaction, and medical attention should be sought as soon as possible.


An effective way of treating a stress rash is to take nonprescription antihistamines, which can help relieve itching symptoms. These medications are usually available without a prescription and can be used at home.


Antihistamines can be purchased without a prescription at a pharmacy, drug store, or online retailer.


Take a cool bath or apply a cold compress to soothe itchy skin. Online purchases of these are easy to find.


Doctors may prescribe a short course of treatment if the condition is more severe:

  • Antibiotic tablets

  • Steroids

  • Stronger antihistamines


If the rashes persist, a visit to the doctor may be necessary for further evaluation. The doctor may then refer the person to a dermatologist who can provide specialised treatment and help identify potential triggers for the hives.


Treatment for rashes may vary depending on other conditions, such as angioedema or anaphylaxis, which may be connected to the rash. In these cases, the nature of the complication must be considered to determine the right course of treatment.

Alternative Causes

Besides stress, there may be other factors that contribute to a rash, such as:

  • Heat Rashes may form on the body in hot and humid conditions due to prolonged environmental exposure.

  • Eczema is a long-lasting skin condition that can affect people of all ages. It is characterised by itchy, inflamed skin that appears as bumps, which can spread and form dense, red plaques.

  • Dermatitis Caused By Contact is a skin reaction that occurs when a person is exposed to an allergen, such as certain soaps or jewellery. This can lead to inflammation, redness, and itching.

  • Pityriasis Rosea is a skin condition characterised by a large, scaly, pinkish-red rash, usually with smaller patches of similar rash surrounding it.

  • Rosacea is a long-term condition which affects the skin. Typical symptoms include redness, rashes, and bumps on the face. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this

illness and the rashes may remain for weeks or months, even following treatment.


Stress rashes are a common symptom of stress, and reducing exposure to stressful situations is the best way to prevent them. However, this may only be an option due to unavoidable circumstances.


Although some sources of stress may be difficult to avoid, such as challenging work circumstances or strained relationships, steps can still be taken to help manage stress levels.


The following lifestyle factors can help reduce stress's impact:

  • Participating in consistent physical activity.

  • Adhering to a nutritious and well-balanced diet.


Coping with stress can be made more accessible through therapy or relaxation methods, such as mindfulness meditation. This technique is known to produce positive results in reducing stress levels.


Dealing with stress can be challenging, as the most effective strategies for reducing its impact can vary significantly depending on the source of the stress and the person affected.


Despite best efforts to ward off stress, it may manifest as a stress rash. In these cases, the inflammation is unavoidable.


Managing the discomfort associated with stress rash is essential to reducing its symptoms and preventing it from worsening.


Connect with one of our doctors at Mobi Doctor with the click of a button and receive the care you require.


Write a Comment