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What Are Stress Hives?

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Your body runs like a machine. I like to use the analogy of your body being like a car. You need to care for it, fuel it, get it checked up regularly, and do everything you can to prolong it’s life. When there’s an issue with your car’s engine, your check engine light pops up. That light is your car telling you, “Hey there’s something wrong with me. You might want to check it out”. Similarly, your body gives out physical signs when something’s not right. If you have an unhealthy diet, you have less energy. If you’re smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, you start to have trouble breathing. And if you’re too stressed out, you can develop Stress Hives (also known as stress Urticaria).

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What Causes Stress Hives?

In so many words, stress hives are caused by excessive stress. When you’re stressed out, your immune system is thrown off a little bit. In an effort to try to “fix” the problem (stress), your immune system sends out histamine. It’s as if your body becomes allergic to stress.Since histamine can’t cure stress, it causes your body to develop hives instead.

Small daily stressors like being late for work typically don’t cause you to break out. Otherwise you’d see a bunch of rash ridden people running around. People generally get stress hives from events like:

  • A death in the family
  • Financial problems
  • Family issues
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Problems at work

Surprisingly, stress hives aren’t always caused by negative events. Even happier stressors can cause you to break out like:

  • Getting married
  • Starting a new job
  • Organizing a party
  • Other big changes in your life

Symptoms of Stress Hives

You probably won’t be able to tell the difference between stress hives and hives caused by an allergic reaction. The symptoms are pretty much identical. The big difference is that stress hives will pretty much appear out of nowhere.

As far as the physical symptoms, you’ll see red bumps and swelling of the skin. They can develop anywhere on your body and be any size. Some people get breakouts as small as a penny, others get stress hives the size of a dinner plate or larger. Urticaria also has a tendency to spread around your body when you leave it untreated which is why you shouldn’t ignore it.

Are Stress Hives Dangerous?

Generally speaking, stress induced hives aren’t dangerous. In the event that hives cause swelling  on your face or throat and you can’t breath, then you need to go to the emergency room ASAP.

Don’t worry about your friends catching your stress hives because they’re not contagious. Stress on the other hand is very contagious so try to avoid spreading your stress to your friends and family.

Stress hives are more of an irritant than a danger. Still, you should take the necessary steps to treat them as soon as possible.

Therapists Specializing in Stress

Stress Hives Treatment

Curing a stress rash is actually pretty simple and doesn’t require any type of medical procedure. In fact, it’s as simple as reducing the amount of stress in your life. As you become less stressed, the hives will naturally go away. Read my post — 170 Stress Management Techniques — to help lower the amount of stress in your life.

You can also buy ointment and sprays like OxyHives and Gold Bond Anti-Itch Cream to help with the itching and burning. You can get both of these without a prescription.Try to avoid wearing tight clothing on the affected area because it can cause further irritation. So if you get outbreaks on your legs, skip the skinny jeans.

If you notice that the hives or rash isn’t going away after using medicine, you can always see a doctor. There are actually doctors that specialize in treating hives from stress called psychodermatologists. Don’t worry about the name, they’re not crazy dermatologists. They specialize in treating skin conditions caused by stress and emotions.

Stress hives suck, but they’re not the end of the world. If you have chronic urticaria, it’s a good sign that stress is really eating away at you and having a negative effect on your life. My goal with TSM is to help you manage stress and live a more enjoyable life. Don’t let stress control your life.

Additional Resources

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About the author

I'm an avid reader and love anything to do with mindfulness and mental health!

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