Stress-Induced Skin Irritation


Stress and anxiety can cause skin itching and rashes and can also worsen existing skin conditions. Stress also can trigger certain types of skin outbreaks such as acne. It can be hard to avoid stress at times, but people can ease the effects through various health-oriented methods. Some stress-induced skin irritation can be relieved with topical treatment.


People with stress-induced skin irritation may have dryness, itchy skin or an outbreak of spots or a rash. These symptoms can go hand-in-hand with an unusually hectic work schedule, personal difficulties, a poor diet, lack of sleep or environmental stress factors.


Stress raises hormone levels, which can create acne, and it can also worsen rosacea, which is characterized by dilated blood vessels and facial redness. Cold sores also can occur as a result of stress. Stress can trigger or worsen episodes of psoriasis, which causes red scaly patches. It also can lead to outbreaks of atopic dermatitis, or eczema, with symptoms of extremely dry and itchy skin. Stress can trigger an incidence of hives, a skin rash that may occur with a fever and general malaise. In addition, stress aggravates certain conditions that cause rashes, such as gluten sensitivity.

Further Symptoms

Since stress and anxiety can make skin more sensitive and dry, this can lead to negative reactions, such as a rash, to skin care products that never caused problems before. Temporarily discontinuing use of the product should solve the problem.

Stress Treatment

Stress can cause other physical and mental issues as well, such as weight gain or weight loss, depression, sleep deprivation and problems with relationships. At the least, people undergoing stress should eat a well-balanced diet and take a vitamin and mineral supplement. A daily walk or some other physical activity is beneficial, too. Aromatherapy is soothing, as is listening to favorite music. Massage, hugs, talking with somebody--all can help.

Immediate Solutions

A more immediate solution to stress-induced skin irritation is to apply topical treatments. An over-the-counter 1 percent hydrocortisone cream can work very well for some problems, and if not, a 2.5 percent prescription treatment may do the trick. calamine lotion, with the active ingredient zinc oxide, works for some people. Other anti-itch gels are available as well. Taking baths with 2 cups of finely-ground oatmeal, like Aveeno or home-ground oatmeal, added to the water can reduce symptoms. Adding 1 cup of baking soda to bath water also may reduce itching.

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