Stress rash as the name indicates, are rashes associated with stress; precisely, it is believed that such skin blemishes and irritation are brought about by our negative response to things happening around us. Stress can have many manifestations as it has many health affects. Some of them are clinically proven while some are beyond explanation. Stress rashes fall under the latter category. Unlike rashes that occur due to sickness, skin issues or allergic reactions, stress rashes are hypothetically directly associated with stress related factors such as histamine release etc. These rashes are also regarded as hives or urticaria. Intensity of these rashes may vary from mild to severe; perhaps relative to the intensity of stress.
There is an ongoing debate in the medical industry regarding whether stress can actually lead to rashes. The answer to this is unclear but not farfetched. Stress is in fact a serious mental irregularity which can affect immune system functioning which in turn can alter the inflammatory response of the system. This may be similar to the response that body may have against allergic reaction.
Increase in the level of stress can lead to augmentation in level of histamine and inflammation which may cause skin alterations. Nevertheless the exact mechanism of how these rashes occur is not known. Stress rashes may be slightly red in color and may appear in clusters and have raised or flat surface.
Symptoms of Stress rash
Stress rashes are dermatologic manifestations. Though rashes themselves can be considered as symptoms of the condition there can be other signs accompanying rashes. It is significant to know that these rashes may appear anywhere on the body. Nevertheless these are often found on arms, facial skin and back. These hives are often red in color and may cause mild to intense itching. Sometimes fluid filled blisters may be seen on the affected skin region. Commonly the rashes have either bumpy or flat skin area. Reports also indicate that burning sensation is one of the common signs of these rashes.
Stress rashes may be temporary or severe. While temporary rashes may occur and ebb away quickly within 8 to 12 hours sever rashes may cause discomfort for longer times. Severe instances of these rashes may also last for around 12 weeks. In around 1 out of 10 instances of stress rashes the condition may aggravate to become chronic.
Causes of stress rash
Stress rashes can affect both male as well as the female gender. However, it is said to be comparatively common among women than men. Though the condition is commonly recorded in people ageing between 30 to 50 years, it can affect individuals of any age. Though there is no specific study to confirm link between stress and rashes, numerous experts agree that stress may lead to rashes. There are some studies which have a rational explanation for link between rashes and stress; however, these are not concrete. According to a study conducted in Taiwan in 2005, people suffering from rashes may have likely suffered from a stressful event in past six months. Well this cannot be concluded as a concrete finding as every individual is exposed to varying intensity of stress now and then.
Another study brought out by the University of Plymouth in 2010 discovered that people affected with chronic rashes were at doubled risk of PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. However, no research has a certain physical or biological reason behind stress resulting in rashes. One of the highly accorded theories is that when stress occurs body produces excessive histamine through immune system as a response to stress. Too much histamine produces symptoms such as redness, itchiness and bumps on skin.
Effects of stress on skin
It is believed that stress causes chemical reaction in your body that makes the skin responsive and sensitive. It may make it difficult for existing skin problems to heal. Sometimes people complain about broken skin, especially under stressful situations. This happens as stress causes the body to produce increased cortisol as well as other hormones. This in turn causes sebaceous gland to produce increased amount of oil causing the skin to become oily. It is a widely accepted fact that oily skin is vulnerable to issues such as acne and other irregularities. Moreover, stress can aggravate skin problems such as psoriasis, eczema and rosacea. It may also flare-up cold sores sometimes called as fever blisters.
Treatment for stress rashes
Stress rashes are better treated by a doctor. Antihistamine is often prescribed by the doctor to reduce swelling resulted out of histamine increase in blood. These antihistamines may also be available over-the-counter at local pharmacy. Home- care techniques such as cold- compress may also help. One can try applying cold- compress on the affected skin region for approx 5 to 10 minutes. This may help in reducing itching and inflammation.
Since it is difficult to certainly determine the cause of stress rashes, it becomes hard to find a suitable treatment. In such a case the only possible options left is to reduce stress level. Exercising, entertainment, socializing and eating proper diet will help in managing stress. Stress rash can further be alleviated with topical creams as suggested by your doctor and omega-3 rich foods. Remember that rashes can also appear due to various other issues which may be serious. For example, HIV rash is a kind of rash which may resemble stress rashes but it is an indication of a fatal underlying condition. Hence, any rash should not be taken lightly. It is crucial to consult a doctor or dermatologist on experience rashes.