What Are The Symptoms Of Stress Hives
Stress hives symptoms include red bumps and swollen areas on your skin that seem to appear almost out of nowhere. They are typically quite itchy and have been known to cause a prickly or burning sensation – especially if touched. Stress hives can appear on any part of your body and can vary in size from as small as the eraser on a pencil to as large as a dinner plate. Stress hives, like a typical hives rash, have been known to spread from place to place, and smaller areas of hives can blend together to create larger areas known as plaques. These stress hives symptoms can easily be treated with the right over the counter medication.
How To Recognize Stress Hives In Children
The general signs of stress in children are similar to those you might feel yourself. These include a decreased appetite, trouble sleeping, an upset stomach, and headaches. But one of the lesser known symptoms is a case of hives.
If your child breaks out in hives, youll want to go through a mental checklist of common reasons, such as recent illnesses, hot days outdoors, or a vigorous day of sports. The best way to discover if stress is a factor is to eliminate the more obvious causes. If none of the obvious sources are reasonable then stress could be the culprit.
Because young children cant yet express themselves adequately when it comes to medical issues, depending on the age of your child we may rely on you for some context so we can determine what started the rash.
Antihistamines Plus An Antacid
If you have a really bad caseyoure itching a lot, new hives are popping up instead of going away, and even high doses of antihistamines arent solving the problema doctor will add a histamine blocker such as Pepcid AC or Tagament , says Dr. Bordone. Though these OTC meds are usually given for upset stomachs , the combination of these two types of histamines can ease symptoms and make the hives go away, Dr. Bordone notes.
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Some People Have Greater Risk Of Developing Any Type Of Hives
While anyone can develop hives, you have a greater risk if you:
Are a woman of African American heritage
Have atopic dermatitis
If you have long-lasting or widespread hives, seeing a dermatologist can help you feel more comfortable. Seeing a dermatologist is also a good idea to make sure that what you have really is hives.
Find out how dermatologists diagnose and treat hives at: Hives: Diagnosis and treatment.
Related AAD resources
ImagesImage 1: Used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.
Image 2: Images used with permission of JAAD Case Reports.
JAAD Case Reports 2021 11:137-8.
Image 3. Image used with permission of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
J Am Acad Dermatol 2006 5428-46.
ReferencesAntia C, Baquerizo K, et al. Urticaria: A comprehensive review: Epidemiology, diagnosis, and work-up. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2018 79:599-614.
Grattan CEH, Saini SS. Urticaria and angioedema. In: Bolognia JL, et al. Dermatology. . Mosby Elsevier, China, 2018:304-19.
Hide M, Takahagi S, et al. Urticaria and angioedema. In: Kang S, et al. Fitzpatricks Dermatology. McGraw Hill Education, United States of America, 2019:684-785.
Hymes SR, Strom EA, et al. Radiation dermatitis: Clinical presentation, pathophysiology, and treatment. 2006. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2006 54:28-46.
What To Do When Stress Gives You Hives
Most people associate hives the raised, puffy welts on your skin that spread when scratched with an allergic reaction, but there are a number of factors that can cause them. One of these factors is stress, and if you find yourself breaking out in hives without another likely cause, its possible that stress is to blame. We spoke to Mary Stevenson, an assistant professor of dermatology at NYU Langone, to learn more about what causes stress hives, and what to do and what not to do if you have them.
What do stress hives look like?Stress hives can look a little like bug bites: both are red, puffy, and itchy, and may appear initially as individual bumps, says Stevenson. However, hives are more often irregular in shape and can join together in larger patches, especially if you scratch them. A bad case of hives may appear as a single large patch of puffy, raised skin.
Why do I have hives?If youre noticing hives or a rashlike reaction, its wise to do a survey of your last few days to look for possible causes before deciding stress is to blame, says Stevenson. Maybe you changed your laundry detergent that week, or you ate all these new foods or started a new medication, she says. Unlike stress, many of these are factors that can be easily eliminated.
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Stress In Studied Groups
The results concerning stress were compared between the study and the control group. CU patients experienced more intensive stress regarding subjective perception . We did not observe any statistically significant difference between the studied groups regarding the number of difficult events in participants lives .
Living With Hives Can Certainly Contribute To Stress
Whether or not stress contributes to hives, the opposite is certainly true: Hives can add a significant amount of stress to people who are prone to them.
When somebody has chronic hives, the effect on their mental health and well-being can be dramatic, says Sarina Elmariah, MD, PhD, a board-certified dermatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Because that person knows he may be uncomfortable and scratching himself scratching is a reflex, and if your skin is itching, youll scratch it, Dr. Elmariah adds that person might avoid certain social situations.
You often dont sleep well as a result of feeling discomfort like this, which can cause irritability and fatigue. At that point, it becomes a real challenge not only for patients but often their families who have to learn to deal with the dynamics of somebody whos chronically uncomfortable, Elmariah says. This dynamic can create more challenges at home and in the workplace.
Does Stress Directly Cause Hives
Researchers are still trying to figure out the exact connection between stress and hives. One thing most agree on is that stress especially the adrenaline rush that stress brings on and the release of cortisol that usually follows can flip on your bodys autoimmune response.
That, in turn, triggers the body to break out in hives as a defense. If your child already has hives, stress can definitely accelerate the condition and cause a flare-up.
Can Anxiety Cause Hives Rashes Or Itchiness
If youre a regular reader of this blog, by now youve gathered that anxiety is more than just a psychological issue and can manifest itself in a myriad of different ways. One unusual physical symptom sometimes attached to anxiety is the way fear can cause you to itch or break out with a rash or hives.
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Disease Severity Itch And Quality Of Life
The variables regarding disease severity, itch and quality of life could be analyzed only in the CU patients group. The median UAS 7 result was 35 , which can be interpreted as the disease of severe intensity. Global itch results indicated its moderate level . The majority of the group suffered from itch concerning several locations and itch with the demand of scratching without excoriations . Short episodes of this unpleasant sensation were the most frequently reported . Itch-related sleep disturbances were regarded by 18 patients . Ten of them reported more than 3 awakenings during one night.
The quality of life results are presented in Table 1. Of note, subscales itching and embarrassment were the most severely affected.
Yes Stress Can Cause Hives
Under high stress situations, you may develop a stress rash. These hives can appear anywhere on the body, and anyone can get them, though they tend to appear most often in women and people aged 30 to 50 years old, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Stress-induced hives often look like bug bites or allergy-induced hives, but some forms can have a halo-like look to them, says Sharon Bergquist, MD, an assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine.
Bergquist says allergies are perhaps the biggest trigger of hives, which happens when your body releases histamines. Histamines cause the body to leak plasma the clear or yellowish liquid that carries your blood cells throughout the body into the skin.
Hives can also occur as a result of certain chemicals in food, bug bites, medication side effects, and exposure to sunlight. However, Bergquist notes that it’s often difficult to find the exact reason why someone breaks out in hives.
“There are a lot of times where we can’t even figure out what causes hives,” Bergquist says. “There’s a chronic form of hives that is very difficult to actually manage because in the majority of cases we never actually figure out the cause.”
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What Causes A Stress Rash
Hives are often the result of your immune system reacting to an allergen . Hives can also be caused by other factors such as viral infections, other illnesses, drug reactions, or environmental triggers. Stress is considered to be an environmental trigger.
Stress can come from anywhere, but common triggers for stress rashes are:
- starting college, getting married, or other major life events
- new jobs or challenging promotions
- an overly ambitious new exercise routine
- quitting smoking or a drastic change to your diet
- a death in the family or other sources of grief
- anxiety over friends or loved ones going through hard times
- a period of insomnia or poor sleep hygiene
In addition to these common events, a history of anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, somatoform disorder, or other
The Vicious Cycle Of Stress And Hives
Research has shown that for some people, stress and hives are intrinsically linked, particularly in those who have an autoimmune condition or have other allergy issues and are predisposed to getting hives. This link may have something to do with the fact that the nervous system and the skin are derived from the same embryologic layer, but research is still underway to better understand the correlation.
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How To Treat A Stress Rash
The brain has powerful effects on the body, and prolonged stress, anxiety, and other factors can manifest in an unpleasant stress reaction. Add to that preexisting skin conditions, and you have the recipe for a potentially severe and uncomfortable skin flare-up.
Everyone is different, so the impact, level of irritation, and treatment routines can vary depending on life and personal circumstances. The COVID-19 pandemic, in particular, has put the entire world on edge. Some of that stress is undoubtedly making its way into your daily life in some unpleasant ways.
While stress-related skin disorders may seem severe, there are multiple ways to deal with them. Let’s learn more about stress rashes, then see which is the best treatment for them.
Does Stress Cause Hives
Yes, and hives are one of the most prevalent stress reactions.
These puffy, raised welts can vary significantly in size, shape, and itchiness. Those with hives usually only experience them for less than 24 hours and go away on their own. You can use over-the-counter antihistamines to reduce itchiness, puffiness, and the overall discomfort of an outbreak.
Hives also trigger due to reactions to a specific medication, food, and other allergens, so its recommended to see your doctor for a diagnosis.
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What Causes Stress Hives
Hives are common, affecting 20% of people at some point during their lives, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.
Hives often are caused by a reaction to food, medicine, an infection, insect sting, or things we breathe in or touch.
These reactions are brought about by histamines. Histamines are the chemicals in the body that our immune systems release to fend off the triggering allergens that enter the body. Histamines lead to increased blood flow in the affected area, which leads to inflammation and the beginning of repair. The release of histamines can lead to symptoms such as sneezing, watery eyes, or itchy hives and rashes.
Stress is an environmental trigger for hives. Other environmental triggers include exercise, sunlight, water, vibration, and hot and cold temperatures.
Stress causes your body to release adrenalin, which may trigger hives, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD. Stress hives usually come on quickly and last from 30 to 60 minutes.
Medical Treatment And Options
Though hives can be itchy, painful, uncomfortable, frustrating, and may cause increased anxiety in some people, there is hope. Many cases of hives can be successfully managed through the use of antihistamines or a combination of drugs, depending on the cause/trigger and severity of symptoms. If antihistamines alone do not fully provide relief, your physician may add oral corticosteroids to your medication regimen. For more moderate to severe cases of urticaria, epinephrine may be prescribed to extinguish a very severe uncontrollable flare. A biologic drug called omalizumab may also be prescribed as a long term treatment to control severe hives.
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When To Call Your Dermatologist
You should schedule an appointment with your dermatologist whenever youre concerned about your skin. And hives are no exception. However, there are a few hives symptoms that always warrant a call to your dermatologist.
Book a dermatology appointment if your hives last for six weeks or longer. Hives that persist for this long are considered chronic hives. You should also note whether your hives appear with other symptoms. For example, if you have allergic reaction hives, you might have difficulty breathing or a swollen tongue after eating as well. Your dermatologist may refer you to an allergist or other health professional to diagnose any underlying conditions, but they may prescribe antihistamines and topical creams for treatment.
If youre experiencing frequent hives outbreaks, the team at Pacific Dermatology Specialists can recommend next steps. We offer hives treatment among our medical dermatology services. With locations in Redondo Beach, CA and other communities in the Greater Los Angeles area, we also provide cosmetic and surgical services to support your skin needs. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
How To Diagnose Hives
Your doctor will perform a physical exam and look at your skin to confirm that your skin rash is really hives. Your doctor may also want to run some tests, such as a blood test or skin prick test. These will help identify if there is an underlying problem.
Doctors will ask a lot of questions to explore possible triggers and determine the exact cause of hives. Have you eaten a new food? Started a new medication? Has there been a recent infection? Is there anything upsetting your body system that suggests an autoimmune disease? The history of symptoms is very important in figuring out what is causing hives.
If there is no obvious trigger or the trigger is unknown, this is called idiopathic urticaria.
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Stress Rash Woes: What To Expect
Howlong can you expect to stay polka-dotted? Sorry to say it, but this gets worsebefore it gets better.
Itstotally normal for new hives to bubble up just as the firstwelts are fading. They will typically subside within a day or two, and you cantreat them with over-the-counter antihistamines.
Nowbrace yourself for this last bit of bad news: Even after they subside, hivesmay not be through with you yet. Hive breakouts often come and go in waves andcan flare up on and off for weeks.
Ifhives last longer than a few days, a doctor can help you figure out whatsgoing on.
Hives usually arent medical emergencies, though they can feel like a major disruption to your regularly scheduled programming. However, get medical attention post-haste if you have symptoms like fever or swelling of the mouth, tongue or lips, since those are signs of a more serious allergic reaction.
Examples Of Stress Related Skin Problems
Its very difficult to determine the exact cause of itchiness from anxiety without a full examination, because it could be caused by a variety of different factors. But, the most common causes include:
- Stress hives. As previously mentioned, hives are itchy bumps on the body that can be triggered by stress. Anxiety causes a considerable amount of stress on the immune system, so those prone to hives are likely to get them.
- Sweat rash. Anxiety also causes sweating, and sweating can lead to a sweat rash, otherwise known as a heat rash. This type of rash is non-threatening, but can be extremely itchy and may take as long as two weeks or more to disappear.
- Specific triggered itch. Although less common, anxiety also triggers skin conditions that a person already has. Anxiety is known to trigger eczema, herpes, psoriasis, and other skin disorders. None of these is life threatening or dangerous if triggered.
- Worse or heightened sense of itch. Itching and rashes are fairly common experiences in life, even when nothing is the matter. However, if one suffers from anxiety, physical sensations can often feel worse than they would if he/she didnt suffer from anxiety. Thus, its possible that a very light rash that could otherwise be ignored feels much worse, and causes the person to focus on it more.
- Unexplained. Its also possible to experience an itch for reasons that simply cant be explained.
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