We’ve all experienced stress at some point in our lives. Maybe you’re late at work, your boss came down hard on you, or you got an argument with your life partner. Although short spans of tension are unlikely to result in unpleasant symptoms, the ongoing stress will wreak havoc on your emotional and physical health. Did you know that anxiety can give you hives? Here’s the truth about stress induced rash.
What happens in your body under high stress levels
Stress is our body’s response to potential dangers. When the part of the brain known as amygdala detects a threat, it signals the adrenal glands to release the stress hormones – cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. These three hormones give the so-called “fight or flight” sensation.
Adrenaline (epinephrine) and norepinephrine are responsible for the immediate reactions. In times of acute stress, they increase the blood pressure, speed up breath, heighten awareness and alertness, and boost the energy – to run or fight. Sometimes, stress hormones trigger the appearance of skin rash.
On the other hand, cortisol needs several minutes to deliver the effects in the face of stress. What it does on your body? Cortisol mobilizes the body and prepares it for a physical release. If you don’t eliminate it – through exercise, sleep, relaxation techniques, etc. – it can build up in the blood and cause health problems.
Effects of stress
Do you get skin rash after a stressful situation? Chronic stress is likely to cause even more issues than hives. The elevated levels of stress hormones can lead to psychological, behavioral, and physical disorders such as:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- High blood pressure
- Weakened immune system
- Heart disease – irregular heartbeat, heart failure, enlarged heart
- Sleep troubles
- Irritability and anxiety
- Autoimmune diseases
- Accelerated aging
- Lack of motivation
- Memory and learning impairment
- Hair loss
- Skin disorders – psoriasis, eczemas, skin rash
How can stress affect your skin?
Even small stressors and anxiety episodes can negatively impact the appearance and texture of the skin. It may seem hard to believe, but the connection mind-skin can be culpable of the rosacea and acne to flare up. Why? Because numerous skin disorders – eczemas, psoriasis, hives, vitiligo, trichotillomania (hair pulling), alopecia (particularly patchy hair loss – take a look at our damaged hair guide here) take their roots from the psyche.
High cortisol levels will affect the immune system, which will send histamine to fight off what is making you sick – stress. The patient will develop an allergic reaction to stress, and the histamine released under the skin will cause the sudden appearance of red, raised, and inflamed bumps or patches all over the body. It might be a form of defense, but it doesn’t help eliminating stress. On the contrary, it can result in the production of more stress hormones!
Hives will occur on your neck, chest, face, and other parts of the body. What are the symptoms of stress-induced rash? It looks like a typical allergic reaction, with itchy bumps that can range in size from less than a centimeter to larger red patches on the skin. If it does not go away within 24 hours, you’ll have to take antiallergic drugs or remedies to eliminate the rash.
Apart from urticaria, you can develop other skin problems induced by stress. Because you’ll make poor eating decisions, chances are you will not be drinking enough water. Thus, the skin will become dry and flaky, resembling crepe paper.
Worries may prevent you from getting the sleep you need to function the next day correctly. The dark and puffy bags under the eyes are a warning sign that you must find an effective stress management technique. And if it wasn’t enough, the acne flare-up following an anxiety episode will make you waste precious time trying to cover the pimples before going out. So, what should you do to reduce the skin problems caused by stress?
What is the best treatment for stress rash?
We have covered the best remedies for heat rash. But how about stress rash? Your doctor will probably give you a prescription for antihistamines. Taking Zyrtec, Allegra, Claritin, Alavert, or Benadryl will fix your hives problem, but they will not help you to cope with stress. Plus, these medicines also come with side effects, including dizziness, constipation, dry eyes, mental disturbances, dry mouth, problems urinating, and blurred vision, among others.
The natural remedies for skin rash are a safe and effective alternative to prescription pills. What should you try?
- 3 drops of essential oil (lavender, rose, or geranium) mixed with half teaspoon of olive oil or coconut oil
- 10 drops of peppermint essential oil with 2 tablespoons Shea butter
- 5 drops chamomile oil with 1 tablespoon dried calendula flowers and 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons bentonite clay with 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
- Juice of Aloe Vera leaves
- 1 tablespoon cocoa butter with 1 teaspoon witch hazel
- 1 tablespoon baking soda with 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Apart from using these treatments to reduce the symptoms of hives, you should also consider targeting what causes you problems. Learn how to reduce stress and prevent the occurrence of skin rash. What are the best options to cope with stress and anxiety?
How to relieve stress
The longer the chronic stress lasts, the worse is for your body and mind. First, you have to identify what keeps you awake at night, then improve your thoughts and mood. Change or control what you can, even though it implies changing your job. Exercise whenever it is possible and eat a healthy diet to feel better about yourself and reduce the incidence of stress rash.
Remember that like the weather, your feelings are only temporary. Don’t let yourself overwhelmed by anxiety. Otherwise, the cortisol released in your body will worsen your existing conditions and lead to itchy skin rash all over your body. Talk to someone about your feelings, get rid of the heavy burden on your shoulders, and practice these stress management techniques:
1. Breathe in, breathe out. But not just anyhow! The way you breathe can lower or increase your stress. Have you never done a breathing exercise? Start with belly breathing. Lie down or sit comfortably, slowly inhaling through your nose and exhaling deeply through your mouth. Concentrate on keeping your chest still, while expanding the diaphragm muscles and stomach. Perform the exercise daily, for at least 20 minutes, and you will reduce the stress that gives you hives on the skin and nightmares at night.
2. Yoga. The 5,000-year-old practice is still popular amongst millions of people worldwide. According to the experts from BetterHealth, the physical aspects of yoga are a gentle form of exercise and stress management. You could practice the poses at home or with the help of a trainer at the gym. What are the best yoga poses to try as a natural stress relief?
- Uttanasana (standing forward bend with shoulder opener)
- Sasangasana (rabbit pose)
- Side stretch
- Vajrasana (thunderbolt pose) with Garudasana (eagle) arms
- Adho Mukha Svanasana (down dog pose)
- Anjanayasana (low lunge)
3. Reach out. Contact your family or a friend, as communication is one of the best tools for handling stress. If it is not possible to talk face to face, give them a call and take a look at your problem from a different perspective. Keep your connection strong and remember that you’re not alone.
4. Laugh out loud. Watch a comedy, listen to stand-up, or do whatever gives you a good laugh. Belly laugh was proven to reduce cortisol and promote the production of endorphins, which are the happiness hormones. Lighten up, or at least fake a smile for 1-2 minutes. The truth is that the physical response – smile – is a consequence of happiness, but it can also have a direct impact on the emotion.
Stress can induce and worsen skin rash, but it can do a lot more harm. Although you can’t control what happens in your life, you can certainly control how you react to the stressful events. Request the assistance of the specialists when you feel overwhelmed and learn how to lead a more positive life!