What Does Stress Rash Look Like?

Reviewed on 9/14/2021

A stress rash, or a skin rash that is triggered by stress, causes raised red bumps (hives) on the skin. Stress can also worsen the symptoms of skin conditions such as eczema, acne, or psoriasis.
A stress rash, or a skin rash that is triggered by stress, causes raised red bumps (hives) on the skin. Stress can also worsen the symptoms of skin conditions such as eczema, acne, or psoriasis.

Skin rashes are abnormal changes in skin color, texture, or appearance that can affect a localized area or occur all over the body. 

Stress Rash Signs & Symptoms

In some people, stress can cause red, itchy skin hives. A stress rash is a term used to describe raised red bumps (hives) that are triggered by stress. In people who have a pre-existing skin condition such as eczema, acne, or psoriasis, stress can worsen these conditions. 

A stress rash (stress hives) can affect any part of the body but commonly appear on the face, neck, chest, or arms. A stress rash can look like:

  • Bug bites
    • Red
    • Puffy
    • Appears initials as individual bumps, welts, or wheals, but can also appear irregular in shape and join together in larger clusters or patches
    • In severe cases, they may look like a single large patch of puffy, raised skin
  • Other symptoms of a stress rash may include:
    • Itching
    • Tingling
    • Burning sensation

Sometimes, what people think is a stress rash is caused by something else. If stress rashes occur frequently, see a doctor to help determine if there is another cause. 

What Causes Stress Rash?

Stress can cause hives that appear as a rash. Chronic or frequent psychological, emotional, or physical stressors can cause some people to develop a rash. 

A stress rash frequently affects people with underlying skin conditions, such as: 

How Are Stress Rashes Diagnosed?

Stress rashes (stress hives) are diagnosed with a history and physical examination of the skin. 

If the cause of a rash is suspected to be stress, no further testing is usually needed. If there is another suspected underlying cause for the rash/hives, tests that may be used to determine the type of rash and/or the cause include: 

How Do You Prevent Stress Rash?

Managing stress can often prevent stress rash. Some tips to manage stress include: 

  • Exercise regularly
  • Practice relaxation techniques such as mediation or visualization
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi 
  • Do something fun with your friends or family
  • Listen to music
  • Read a book

What Is the Treatment for Stress Rash?

Most of the time, stress rash (stress hives) go away on their own within a day or so. 

Home treatment for the symptoms of hives includes:

See a doctor if the rash does not go away on its own within a week or symptoms worsen. Call 911 and see a doctor right away if you have a stress rash and: 

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the throat or lips swell up

QUESTION

Eczema (also atopic eczema or atopic dermatitis) is a general medical term for many types of skin inflammation. See Answer

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Reviewed on 9/14/2021
References
https://www.scripps.org/news_items/6955-can-stress-cause-rashes

https://www.stress.org/what-to-do-when-stress-gives-you-hives