Stress Rashes

We all deal with stress from time to time. Stress may cause many health conditions like a strain on your heart or stomach ulcers; but you may not know that it can also contribute to a skin rash, also known as a stress bumps. Read on for details on what a stress bump can look like and what treatment you can employ.

What is a Stress Rash?

An odd, although common skin condition that can effect anyone, a stress rash is essentially a case of hives. Hives are white or red raised bumps and welts that may emerge in small or large patches on your face, chest, or other areas of the skin. Hives may may last anywhere from 24 hours, to days, to six weeks. Often, these red hives can feel very itchy. Some people who remain stressed or exposed to certain triggers may form hives for longer periods of time.

What Causes Stress Rashes?

A stress rash is the result of your body’s producing a chemical called cortisol and subsequently developing visible symptoms of inflammation in response. Stressed people with underlying health conditions such as eczema or allergies, are more likely to experience a stress rash. Stress often exacerbates these health conditions. If your stress rash was the result of an underlying condition such as eczema, you may need to treat that before your rash heals.

When your body has a stressful experience, it produces cortisol among other hormones. These can cause your body to produce more oils, leading to rashes. Heat is also a contributing factor for a skin rash for the same reason. One appointment for medical advice often helps determine whether the red bumps may be caused by contact dermatitis, excessive heat, underlying health concerns, or hives stress. A dermatologist can not only help determine the cause of rashes but can also recommend the best treatment for your health.

Related Health Conditions

Stress rashes are often related to one or multiple ongoing or life long skin conditions. The following conditions are related factors in determining what caused your hives:

  • Dull, dry skin: Stress causes you to stop taking care of yourself. Your skincare routine suffers, you don’t eat right and your skin pays the price. You need a proper diet filled with nutritious fruits and vegetables and plenty of water to be adequately hydrated.
  • Inflammation and rosacea: Stress can trigger inflammation which causes rosacea to flare up.
  • Eczema: Stress can trigger your autoimmune system and send it into overdrive. Your body’s response is an eczema breakout or hives.
  • Psoriasis: If you have psoriasis, you know that it is a chronic condition that you may not be able to control completely. However, you can lessen the severity and frequency of your breakouts by controlling your stress.

As you can see, stress can exacerbate underlying medical conditions and cause rash breakouts.

How to Get Rid of Stress Rash

Most skin rashes related to stress resolve without medical treatment in a few days. While your skin is healing, you should take great care and not pick or scratch at the new patches. Scratching can open the nodes and lead to skin infections, so try not to scratch even if they itch.

You can use cold compresses and over-the-counter creams to help with the itching. These topicals should contain a glucocorticosteroid. Calamine lotion is even a good option for rash care. Oral antihistamines can also be beneficial in treating the itching until the rash clears up.

If, after a week, your skin has not gotten better or there’s a sign of increased inflammation, contact your doctor. Your treatment for hives may include medication such as prescription-strength antihistamines, topical steroid creams, or oral steroids to reduce inflammation and accelerate healing.

Stress Rash Home Remedies

When you have a stress rash, there are some home remedies you can try to alleviate your symptoms. These have anti-inflammatory properties as well as providing itch relief.

  • Oatmeal: Oatmeal baths are soothing and can provide relief for irritated skin. You can purchase individual packets for use in the bath, or you can finely grind oatmeal yourself.
  • Aloe: You can use fresh aloe gel or creams containing aloe vera gel. Aloe has healing properties and is used for a variety of skin conditions.
  • Coconut oil: Coconut oil is a common ingredient in skin moisturizers. It also has anti-inflammatory and can aid in the itching
  • Baking soda: Baking soda is a common household ingredient that soothes your skin and relieves itching.
  • Apple cider vinegar: ACV is another common household ingredient that has antimicrobial properties that can aid in healing irritated skin. If your skin is cracked or bleeding, you should make a diluted solution.
  • Plant oils: Oils taken from various plants are beneficial in moisturizing irritated skin. Consider olive oil, chamomile, jojoba, and saffron oil among others. These three have anti-inflammatory properties that will help reduce the swelling. Chamomile has natural antihistamine effects. Jojoba oil has properties that help the skin to repair itself as it heals.

Home remedies have been used for centuries but they are not reviewed by the medical community. If you get any side effects from home remedies, you should stop using and consult your doctor. Most home remedies have not been reviewed for side effects.

How Do I Prevent New Rashes

Look closely at your life routine, taking care to eliminate and avoid all potential triggers of eczema, hives, psoriasis, or other health concerns. Look for any sign of an outbreak to begin your medication plan as soon as possible to reduce inflammation immediately. Reduce the cause of increased stress levels for your ongoing health. The steps here can help get you started reducing your stress level and preventing future stress rash breakouts.

  • Exercise regularly. Exercise releases endorphins which make you feel better.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet; avoid skipping meals. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce stress levels.
  • Limit alcohol intake. Alcohol is a depressant, which can make stress appear worse than it is.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Even though stress causes a lack of sleep, sleep is necessary to keep your body and mind in balance. This balance can help you deal with and prevent stress.
  • Practice yoga or meditation. These are both great in helping you relax and refocus your energy.

These are just a few ideas to help you get started reducing your stress level. Brainstorm other ideas like these that may aid you in getting stress rashes under control.


Stress can wreak havoc on your body. While many of the medical conditions caused by stress are generally unseen, stress rashes affect your skin. These breakouts are not only itchy, but they are also red and inflamed, making you self-conscious and overall miserable. Learn to control your stress and how to treat your rash when you have a breakout.

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