The connection between stress and your skin is well-known, but how do you recognise a rash that’s caused by stress rather than anything else?
First thing to note is that stress causes different symptoms on different people’s skin; there’s not one ‘stress rash’ that is easily recognisable, it’s more a question of how stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline impact your own particular skin.
Here are three common ways in which stress can affect your skin:
Worsening of existing conditions
For some people, the stress hormones released in their body when they’re under pressure directly affect how well their eczema, rosacea, acne or psoriasis is controlled. You might notice your skin flares up more frequently or more severely than normal if things are difficult at work or at home. It might not be immediately obvious that the flare is related to stress, rather than dust or pollen or detergent, for example, so it is always worth checking what might have triggered it.
Stress-related hives can be alarming; stress hormones cause a histamine release that results in welts, bumps, weals and inflammation on the body. Hives can appear in small patches, but these patches can join up to cover large areas of the body. People who are already susceptible to allergic hives are more likely to experience stress-related hives, and they are most common in women in their 30s, 40s and 50s.
Dry or irritated skin
Stress and anxiety can have a major impact on the way you look after yourself. Maybe you’re not moisturising as carefully as you would if you were under less pressure and your skin becomes dry and cracked. Maybe you’re eating poorly and your skin is reacting to that with breakouts of acne or cold sores. Long hot baths might seem a good way of easing stress, but for sensitive skin hot water and bubbles can cause skin to become irritated. Whatever the reason, a lapse in self-care can have dramatic affects on your skin.
Whether you’re suffering from hives or a worsening of an existing skin condition, the first thing to do is find strategies for managing your stress levels; your skin is a great warning sign that you need to take your well-being seriously.
Then look at skincare that will soothe and nourish your sensitive skin, rather than aggravate any irritation.
Recommended products for stressed skin
Balmonds Skin Salvation with hemp, beeswax and calendula (from £7.99 for 30ml)
Balmonds Daily Moisturising Cream with shea butter & hemp (from £13.99 for 100ml)
Balmonds Intensive Facial Oil with rosehip, lavender and chamomile (£22 for 30ml)
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.