Stress and anxiety are two related emotional ailments that can also have harsh and often embarrassing physical effects. Many people experience either stress related rashes or anxiety related rashes. While these symptoms are not wholly uncommon, the source of the rashes can be a little difficult for doctors to identify because all skin rashes tend to look alike. If a direct physical link cannot be identified, then the most likely culprit is emotional stress and anxiety. Most people do not realize, however, that stress and anxiety can have physical manifestations and symptoms.
What Causes Stress and Anxiety Rashes?
The body’s natural reaction to severe emotional stress and anxiety is to release unusually large quantities of cortisol and adrenaline into the bloodstream. This is a physical and chemical reaction that can either exacerbate pre-existing skin conditions or create new ones in response to extreme emotional duress.
Stress rash causes are extremely difficult for doctors to pinpoint because there are no obvious visual indicators of emotional stress or anxiety. They would need to rely solely on the patient’s descriptions of what they are feeling and this is not always the most reliable method.
Stress Rash Symptoms
People who suffer from stress and anxiety disorders may notice stress rashes on their stomach, hands, neck, back, and other parts of their body. Stress rash symptoms can include extreme redness of the skin akin to rosacea, dryness, flakiness, and itchiness. Even though extremely itchy stress rashes can be unbearable, it is important to refrain from scratching the affected area because this can lead to bleeding and scabbing, which may result in permanent scarring.
Stress bumps on the neck are also not completely uncommon because the neck has a lot of pressure points that are connected to different parts of the body. These pressure points are directly correlated to stress reactors within the body’s nervous system.
What Does a Stress Rash Look Like?
The problem with stress rashes is that they are extremely difficult to diagnose because they pretty much look just like any other rash. That is why doctors have such a hard time diagnosing and remedying rashes. Oftentimes, they look like rosacea, allergic reactions, hives, eczema, or even a heat rash.
The best way to figure out the root cause of the rash is to perform an elaborate physical examination. Once it is determined that there is no rational physical cause for the rash, it can then be concluded that the root cause must be emotional or psychological. But again, this is no easy feat because even if the root cause is emotional or psychological, there will always be inner chemical reactions that lead to the rash and there are no visual ways of diagnosing mental disorders.
How to Get Rid of a Stress Rash
There are many methods of relieving stress rash symptoms, such as taking prescribed antihistamines or taking cold showers to relieve the discomfort. But, perhaps, the best and most permanent solution is to seek mental help in one way or another. Find ways of relieving the emotional discomfort you are feeling because believe it or not, physical manifestations of emotional pain are your body’s way of communicating that there is a deep rooted unresolved issue that needs to be dealt with.
Sometimes, the best medicine is not a chemical concoction, but rather some good old fashioned rest and recuperation. Take some time off of work, do some traveling, make positive lifestyle changes like exercising and eating healthy foods. A lot of people find comfort in Yoga because it engages their bodies and their minds in relaxation and exercise.
Stress Rash Prevention Tips
Most stress rashes tend to dissipate on their own within a six week period, but if you find your symptoms last longer than that, then you should mention it to your doctor. It could mean there is another underlying and more serious physical problem at play. They might be able to provide an appropriate stress rash treatment or recommend a specialist who can help.
The best stress rash prevention tips involve taking care of your mental health as much as you would your physical body. The problem is that most people tend to neglect their mental health with the assumption that it is not as important as their physical health. They tend to push their emotions aside rather than dealing with them and confronting their emotional issues.
Find ways to relieve your emotional anguish by either talking it out with someone you trust—a friend, family member, or even a therapist. There is no shame in admitting you need help but there are potentially severe consequences for denying yourself the emotional support you need. Stress and anxiety caused rashes are tangible proof of that.
Silver, N., “Stress Rash: Tips for Identification, Treatment, and More,” Healthline web site, December 2, 2016; http://www.healthline.com/health/skin-disorders/stress-rash#Overview1, medically reviewed by Judit Marcin, MD on December 2, 2016
“What to Do About Anxiety Rash?,” Calm Clinic web site; http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/symptoms/rash
“Stress Rash: Causes, Symptoms, Pictures, & Treatment,” Hubpages web site, November 4, 2015; http://hubpages.com/health/Stress-Rash-Pictures-Causes-Symptoms-Treatment, last updated November 4, 2015.