Can Stress Cause Hives? What to Know About Stress Rashes, And How to Treat One

Do you switch on your television or scroll through Instagram and get anxious after finding out distressing news from around the globe? If yes, you are not alone. 

It is pretty common to get stressed out while living in a pandemic and witnessing political injustices every day. Constant exposure to such information takes a toll on your mental and physical health. And in most cases, stress can hurt your skin. 

Have you heard about a stress rash and hives? If you are not aware of these terms but have experienced something similar, you may want to read this article. 

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What Is a Stress Rash?

Man that has a stress rash from stress.

A stress rash is a flare-up of skin that frequent exposure to stress can trigger. It often appears in people that suffer from underlying conditions like eczema, allergies, or rosacea. However, even if you don’t have any skin problems, you can still develop a stress rash.

This rash results from inflammation that your body suffers from after being in constant contact with stressful elements. Inflammation makes your skin more sensitive and can lead to an unexpected flare-up. 

Can Stress Cause Hives?

Yes, it can. A stress rash takes the form of welts, also known as hives. They can appear all around your body and look like red, swollen balls. Welts can be as tiny as a small dot or as big as a plate. 

Sometimes these hives connect to form much bigger welts that can cover a prominent patch of your skin. A skin rash and hive can be extremely itchy and even give you a burning sensation when touched. 

While a single hive may disappear within a day, at times, new groups of these red bumps can reappear and last for weeks before fading out. Sometimes, when the period extends to more than six weeks, such welts and rashes are considered chronic and require serious medical intervention. 

What Causes a Stress Rash and Hives to Appear?

When you are in a stressful situation, your cortisol levels start rising. This increase often triggers oil production in our skin that can result in breakouts and acne. Simultaneously, your body starts reviving its histamine response that makes you highly uncomfortable. 

During this process, your body releases several inflammatory chemicals that may result in a skin flare-up and a rash. 

Regardless of this information,  the relationship between your skin and stress hormones is still unclear. But, we know for a fact that stress-caused hives and rashes are pretty common. As per Cleveland Clinic, most women get frequent stress rashes, especially in their 40s and 50s. 

However, this is not a complex skin problem. A stress rash or hive is pretty much treatable. 

How to Treat Stress Rash?

When looking for solutions on how to treat stress rash, you should be clear about a few things.

Is your rash painful? Has it been active for more than a day? Is it getting worse with time?

If the answers to all the questions above are yes, you may want to initiate your treatment with some essential antihistamines. These are over-the-counter medicines and are readily available without a prescription. Antihistamines can relieve itching and reduce swelling to a great level. 

Alternatively, you can also try cooling down your skin by taking a bath or using a readily available cold compress. 

However, if your stress rash worsens and gets unbearable, run to a skin specialist as soon as possible. Your doctor will most probably prescribe the following treatments:

  • Steroids
  • Strong antihistamines
  • Antibiotics

A chronic stress rash may take some time to cure, so be patient and keep following your specialist’s instructions. Your treatment may also vary if you have other skin conditions like anaphylaxis and angioedema

How to Treat Hives?

The treatment of hives is pretty similar to a rash. While a single welt can disappear independently, a group of chronic bumps requires proper treatment.

For severe hives, your consultant will ask you to start:

  • Corticosteroids
  • Injectable Medication
  • Or other medicines to reduce swelling and redness

Moreover, if you feel severe swelling on your lips or face and find it hard to breathe, don’t hesitate to communicate with your doctor. Chronic hives can lead to life-threatening complications, so timely action is always safe. 

You may also experience a stress rash or hives because of your preexisting skin condition. In that case, share all your current medications with the specialist so he/she can curate a new medical regimen accordingly. 

How Can You Prevent Stress Rashes And Hives?

Prevention is better than cure, so why not make an effort to prevent such skin conditions from occurring in the first place? Stress is a common problem, but you can always try to manage it by following a few tips. 

Regular Exercise

Man that is exercising to help prevent stress rashes.

Engage in regular exercise and walk to manage your mind against unnecessary anxiousness. You can either join a gym or go for a jog in a park. Besides, fresh air is healthy for your skin and prevents breakouts.

Pay Attention to Your Diet

Improve your diet and start consuming lots of fruits and vegetables. A balanced meal can help to minimize the impact of stress on your body. 


Take some time out for therapy or follow specific relaxation techniques. You can opt for mindful meditation and learn to calm your mind in stress-triggering situations.

Don’t Keep it to Yourself

If something is bothering you for a long time, try to write it out or share it with a friend. This action will help you take the problem out of your mind for some time, and you will be in a better position to analyze the situation. 

It is pretty difficult to eliminate stress. Moreover, the practical strategy can vary according to the intensity of the problem and the state of the sufferer. 

However, you can always be proactive and save your skin from the wrath of a rash and hives.  

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A stress rash isn’t a problem to worry about as long as it disappears on its own. However, if it persists and forms into unmanageable and painful hives, don’t wait and rush to a skin specialist as soon as you can. 

Also, if you suffer from stress daily, see a therapist and initiate treatment. Your brain controls the rest of your body, so make an effort to keep it healthy for long.  

Here’s wishing you a stress-free skin every day!

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