Can Stress Cause Eczema
Stress isnt generally considered a root cause of eczema, but it can cause a flare up. Often people scratch their skin when theyre stressed. This scratching can make the itch of any existing patches of eczema worse, this is known as the itch-scratch cycle and this make the eczema itself worse.
There is also some evidence, although more research is needed, that stress can impact the messages that are sent to our sensory nerves and this can impact our bodies inflammatory and immune responses. Meaning feelings of stress alone could trigger a flareup, irrelevant of the itch-scratch cycle mentioned above.
What Might Constant Itching Do To Your Skin And Anxiety Levels
If your itching is mild and easily resolved, you may be able to deal with it more easily. However, there is the possibility that an ongoing itch could exacerbate both skin issues and the anxiety that causes it.
Constantly scratching itchy skin, or trying unsafe methods to resolve the itching, may cause the skin to break or become swollen. This scenario can also cause infections on the open skin, worsening the skin condition.7
On top of this, there is a psychological component to constant itching of the skin. Studies show that people who have aggravated or exacerbated skin issues due to itching will probably also experience higher levels of stress and anxiety, largely because theyre uncomfortable and worried about how others might perceive them.8
So therein lies the rub : The more stressed out, overwhelmed, or anxious you are, the worse the itching could become. And trying to deal with the itch on a physical level wont really do much to help, since the underlying cause isnt always dermatological by nature.9
This is why its especially important to deal with both your mood and stress levels and address your skin concerns holistically.
What Is Anxiety Itching
Anxiety and stress can manifest themselves in different ways. For example, when you are anxious, your body produces a stress reaction, which affects your neurological system and leads to itchy or burning skin. Many types of itching are associated with anxiety .
Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo explains, When worry sets in, your bodys stress response may go into overdrive. This can cause nerve damage and sensory symptoms like skin burning or itching, which may or may not be evident. This sensation can affect your arms, legs, face, and scalp, among other places on your body. Stress generates a variety of physiological changes, including hormone imbalances and neural system modifications, which can result in unpleasant sensations along one or more nerves. Anywhere on the skin, these sensations can generate a burning or itchy sensation.
Anxiety is manifested as both mental and physical symptoms. Lets look at them in the next section.
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Stress And Itchy Skin
Stress can be directly linked to itchy skin. High stress levels release a chemical called histamine, which causes itching, flushing, and sometimes rashes. This response is similar to an allergic reaction and can be extremely uncomfortable. Additional causes of itchy skin can include environmental or internal factors like heat, sunburn, extreme cold weather, allergies, eczema, and psoriasis.
How Do I Get Rid Of My Stress Hives
The #1 best proven method of eliminating stress hives from your life forever is to remove ALL stress and tension from your life. Aside from that, the only other way is to take an OTC medication like OxyHives that has proven to get rid of hives within 1-2 hours. OxyHives has been around for over 10 years now and is effective without any of the harmful side effects other hives medications have. OxyHives recently received approval to sell their hives treatment over the counter and thus no longer requires a prescription. Please see our hives treatment page for more information.
In addition, it is best to avoid tight fitting clothing over the areas affected by the stress hives, and to avoid hot or cold baths and showers as this can cause further skin irritations and cause hives from stress to spread. Please see our how to get rid of hives page for tips on how to alleviate your symptoms until your order of OxyHives arrives.
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What Is A Stress Rash
A stress rash is simply a rash or issue with the skin caused by stress and anxiety.
A typical stress rash reaction is breaking out in hives, known as urticaria. These are raised, itchy bumps that appear on the infected area and can appear anywhere on the body. Along with hives, those with existing skin conditions, like eczema and rosacea, can experience more frequent flare-ups. Stress rashes are widespread, affecting millions in the United States annually.
How does it work? When cortisol levels increase in response to stress, your body’s histamine response goes into action, manifesting as puffy skin, inflammation, and overall increased oil production. This oil, for example, can cause severe acne outbreaks.
When Should You See A Doctor
You should see a doctor if:
- Anxiety and itching interfere with your daily life or cause skin damage or infection.
- The itching lasts for more than 2 weeks and does not reduce with self-care measures.
- The itching is accompanied by fever, night sweats, or unintended weight loss.
- The itching becomes severe and painful and results in blisters.
The doctor may refer you to a dermatologist for skin tests or a mental health professional to treat anxiety-related problems.
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Find An Eczema Support Group
Even though eczema is a common disease affecting more than 31 million Americans, many people say they are too embarrassed or ashamed to talk about it. Oftentimes, they report covering up their skin and thus go through life not knowing if the person standing in line next to them also has eczema. Its human nature to want to talk with others who have the same problem and know what youre going through. The National Eczema Association can help. Connect with us on and to discuss the latest news and research with others in the eczema community. Join Eczema Wise, an online support group where people living with or affected by eczema can post discussion topics, exchange ideas and make new friends.
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How To Nix The Itch: For Now And For Good
First and foremost, youll need expert guidance when dealing with skin problems related to your mood, stress, or anxiety both on the physical and psychological levels. Make sure to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and in-depth treatment to up your chances of getting the itch under control.
But that doesnt mean you cant have your own itch-solving strategy. Here are some simple ways you can try to address the itch.
- Remember that the itching sensation might be tied to your heightened anxious or stressed state. Try to calm yourself down with deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, or grounding exercises. Resist the urge to scratch.10
- Seek solid support for dealing with stress or anxiety. Learning strategies to deal with these conditions may help resolve itching long-term.11
- Soothe skin with a little more TLC and avoid fragranced laundry detergent, overly hot water, and tight fabrics that might further irritate sore skin.12
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Can Stress Cause Itching
Pruritus or itchy skin is an inflammatory reaction of your skin, and depending on what causes it in the first place, you may experience itching on your entire body. You may have mild or severe conditions, such as allergic reactions or severe infections when you feel itchy. It is actually a normal reaction of your body to something that it deems harmful. The question is, “Can anxiety and stress cause itching?” Let’s find out more about it.
Connection Between Stress And Urticaria
Dermatologists are learning that there is a definite link between the mind, the immune system and the skin. More research is focusing on the relationship between stressful life events and the onset of urticaria. Dermatologists are seeing that its not uncommon to see urticaria occur after a major life stressor, or that the patients who are most impaired by urticaria have more limited stress management skills. They can see a connection in patients with relatively minor dermatological symptoms and a seemingly disproportionate amount of distress about these symptoms, which might suggest the patients dont have the capacity to recognize the psychological component to their distress and/or suffering.
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Anxiety Can Cause Or Make Skin Problems Worse
The itchiness can be related to skin problems that anxiety makes worse, or caused by anxiety directly. People can even experience stress urticaria, or stress hives, that develop due to chronic stress, anxiety or tension, and appear as red, raised and swollen areas on the skin that appear suddenly. These stress hives can cause itching, and some people report having a burning or stinging sensation whenever they appear. Stress hives can appear on any part of the body face, hands, feet, arms, etc., and can vary in size from as small as a pencil eraser to as large as a dinner plate. Stress hives have been known to spread from place to place on the body, and smaller areas of hives can blend together to form larger areas. Urticaria can be acute, meaning that hives last less than six weeks, and also chronic, which is when hives last longer than six weeks.
Stress + Anxiety = Itching
As far as I am concerned, there is a direct correlation between the level of stress and anxiety in my life and the uncontrollable tingling of the nerve endings on my arms and neck. Stress and anxiety are forms of mental energy which is often times unwanted. As stress and anxiety build up in our closed psychological system of a brain it has to be dissipated in order to maintain balance or equilibrium within the system. I have concluded, in the absence of any other scholarly explanation, that my uncontrollable itching was a manifestation of this dissipation of this mental energy.
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The Ancient Cure Of Ice
Aside from bad late night TV infomercials I had to watched, the only recurring cause for my incidents of itching that I could pin point was heat. My itching rages most often occur during the hot summer months in California but tingling nerve endings will also blossom during the cool of winter. Even if Im snow skiing and have bundled up against the cold too much my arms or neck will flare up screaming to be itched. On occasion, not wanting to ski naked, I would actually grab some snow and hold it to my neck to dampen the itch sensation.
Itch And Anxiety In The Brain
The itch-anxiety cycle appears to exist for itch of all types: dermatological or systemic origin, histaminergic or nonhistaminergic transmission, and in chronic itch patients or healthy individuals with no pruritic disease. Therefore, it is likely that a key component of the itch-anxiety cycle is the final common pathway for itch of all types: the brain. The brainâs role in the affective components of pain has been explored previously . Now, brain imaging and animal studies are providing evidence for the involvement of several anxiety-related structures in the processing of itch. Of course, a major caveat is that these brain areas are activated by many different types of stimulation. Further studies will need to assess whether activations are specifically correlated to anxiety or stress during itch.
Currently, most itch brain imaging studies are in healthy controls, and itch-related brain activity has not yet been studied in several major pruritic diseases, like psoriasis. Furthermore, there are few animal studies of brain activation during itch. Further studies could elucidate the pathways and neurotransmitters involved in this cycle.
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Treatment For Anxiety Disorder
To achieve relief from the core issue, the anxiety, you might benefit from seeking help from an anxiety specialist. These mental health experts are well equipped to help improve your quality of life through better management of the symptoms.
The exact type of psychotherapy used for anxiety will be based on the type of anxiety. CBT is an evidence-based therapy that is very helpful for helping the person change their response to triggers. If trauma is what is setting off the itching, the therapist will use an exposure therapy. This type of treatment helps to reduce the impact of the traumatic event.
Medication for anxiety disorders may involve benzos, which are drugs that can swiftly calm nerves. In some cases, antidepressants are used to treat anxiety as well.
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.
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What Is The Link Between Hives And Stress
The link between hives and stress hasnt been established, and researchers continue to study the topic. What they do know that emotional stress can adversely affect the immune system and that the body can react to stressful times by breaking out in skin irritations.
Per HealthCentral, researchers have identified specific kinds of hives that occur when a person is feeling stressed. One type is called cholinergic hives, which can appear when a persons stress levels raise their body temperature. Dermatographia is a form of stress hives that cause people to pick at their skin when they are feeling stressed. This constant pressure on the skin can cause the body to release histamine and cause hives or welts on the body.
People who already have autoimmune conditions or allergies may also be predisposed to breaking out with hives during stressful times. 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, HealthCentral writes.
Psychological Stress Exacerbates Itch
Not only is itch associated with greater anxiety, but stress has also be shown to exacerbate itch, leading to a true itch-anxiety cycle. Many chronic itch patients report that psychological stress is a factor that aggravates their itch. This has been demonstrated in a wide variety of pruritic conditions: atopic dermatitis , psoriasis , chronic idiopathic urticaria , lichen planus , acne-related itch , epidermolysis bullosa , post-burn pruritus , small fiber neuropathy with itch , uremic pruritus , cholestatic itch , and psychogenic itch .
This effect has also been replicated experimentally. Viewing a standardized series of stressful images, such as a snake preparing to strike or a person being pulled from a burning building, increased itch severity in prurigo nodularis and lichen simplex chronicus patients . Healthy subjects also reported higher itch from histamine iontophoresis when negative emotions were induced with violent film fragments compared to when positive emotions were induced with comedic film fragments.
The links between stress, anxiety, and itch also exist in broader populations outside of specific pruritic diagnoses. A cohort study of generally healthy Japanese participants , a longitudinal study of randomly selected German participants , cross-sectional surveys of American and Australian undergraduate students , and a cross-sectional study of Norwegian adolescents all found significant associations between perceived anxiety or stress and itch.
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To Heck With Climbing The Corporate Ladder
As a result of drastically changing my outlook and approach to life there were some immediate consequences. My angry outbursts melted away. Depression, a constant companion revealed in my blog post My Confession of Depression, has been a scarce visitor. Ive found myself sleeping through the night. My uncontrollable itching has subsided to a minor annoyance. Most notably, the stress and anxiety of my life are at historically new low levels.
Can Stress And Anxiety Cause Skin Itching
Anxiety can cause many symptoms, so what is anxiety itching all about?
Anyone who has suffered from anxiety knows that it shows itself in many wayssweating, racing heart, feeling lightheaded, etc. What most people dont know is that anxiety can also cause skin symptoms, like itching.
Like a vicious cycle, the more anxious you feel, the more you itch. Then, the more you itch, the more anxious you feel! There is a term for this: psychogenic itching. To learn more about this condition, and about anxiety disorder, keep reading.
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How Can I Treat A Stress Rash Or Hives Caused By Stress
Luckily, Dr. Nazarian says stress rashes are completely transient, meaning, that they can go away on their own, usually within 24 hours .
But if your stress rash or hives are really stressing you out, Dr. Nazarian and Dr. Jaliman both recommend over-the-counter treatments such as antihistamines like Benadryl or Zyrtec, or a cortisone cream to decrease the inflammation that results in itching. Dr. Nazarian also suggests removing any irritating factors like increased heat or tight-fitting clothes around the area of your stress rash. Heat is known to be an aggravant, as well as pressure, Dr. Nazarian says.
If you dont see any improvements after trying over-the-counter remedies, Dr. Nazarian and Dr. Jaliman recommend taking the time to see a dermatologist, since it could be a sign that something else is going on. The average person can totally misdiagnose, so dont be afraid to seek out a dermatologist, says Dr. Jaliman.
Also worth nothing: You can work to prevent a stress rash, too, by reducing stress altogether through limiting screen time and social media use, practicing mindfulness, or even taking a walk outside. Your skin will thank you.
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