Maybe you’re having an especially bad day, your stress levels feel like they are through the roof, and you really are feeling on-edge. Without warning, suddenly you notice unsightly red welts on certain parts of your skin. If you are like a lot of people, you will only wonder if you are dealing with hives from stress or if, by some coincidence, you’re having a bad reaction to something on a day when you really don’t need more stress. In truth, those hives may simply be because you are stressed. Let’s take a closer look.
Can you get hives from stress?
You can definitely get hives from stress—even though hives are more often related to an allergic reaction. Nevertheless, a lot of people do get stress hives or stress rashes but chalk the issue up to a totally different issue.
What do stress hives look like?
Stress hives are these red welts that can show up pretty much anywhere on the body. The skin will look inflamed, may be itchy, and can even burn. Sometimes, hives can actually merge or grow at such a rate that they can cover full areas of the body.
What’s the difference between stress hives and a stress rash?
Stress hives look more like welts on the skin, whereas stress rash can look more like a series or patch of raised bumps. It can be easy to confuse the two, and some people can even have a mixture of both welts and raised red bumps at the same time.
Why do I have hives?
As noted, hives can be simply due to stress and the body’s biochemical reaction to that stress. The hormones released in the body when you get stressed can sometimes be enough to trigger an immune response that looks a lot like an allergic reaction. Of course, hives can also be caused by actual allergies to something you have been exposed to that your body perceives as a threat, such as fragrances in a new laundry detergent or an insect bite.
What happens if I scratch my hives?
Scratching hives can make them worse. With the skin already inflamed, it is more prone to bacteria and irritation, so do what you can to avoid scratching even if your hives are itchy. Instead, you can try to use something to soothe the hives, such as hydrocortisone cream or even an alcohol-free aloe vera gel.
How long do stress hives last?
If your hives truly are caused just by stress, they should subside relatively quickly. Most people will see the welts subside in a few days or sooner. But, be aware, a break out of hives can be an intermittent issue that comes and goes, especially with recurrent stress.
How should I treat stress hives?
The major thing to do if you suspect you have stress hives is to take a time out and try to relax. The more relaxed you get, the lower those stress hormones fall and the faster the problem will regress. Take a walk, take a break, or take some time for yourself to unwind. Over-the-counter allergy medications may be beneficial, and some anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen may be helpful as well.
Talk to a Dermatologist About Ongoing Issues with Hives from Stress
If you have ongoing issues with hives, speaking with a dermatologist can be for the best. Sometimes, hives can be a signal that there is a deeper skin issue at play. Reach out to us at Valley Skin Institute to book an appointment if you have problems with hives that don’t seem to go away.