Do You Have Anxiety Rash? What You Can Do To Help

Updated November 20, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
Physiologically, the symptoms of anxiety can present themselves through shaking, gastrointestinal issues, sweating, stuttering, sleeplessness, body aches-
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- or anxiety induced rash.
 
Have you ever woken up with a strange rash on your body and puzzled over what you touched, ate or came into contact with? You may be surprised to discover your rash had nothing to do with anything physical and rather had everything to do with your mental state.

Managing anxiety involves practices designed to reduce rash symptoms, while also avoiding situations where our anxiety may be triggered or heightened. Many people who live with anxiety have learned to adjust their lives accordingly. And those who strive to overcome it seek professional support.

But sometimes, our anxiety manifest physically, for instance, in the form of a skin anxiety induced rash. Keep reading to learn more about why you might get a rash out of the blue.

All About Anxiety Rash:

How To Navigate Anxiety And A New Rash Development 

A skin rash is one of the less common physiological side effects of anxiety. Because anxiety is traditionally thought of as a mental condition, people often wonder if anxiety can manifest so physically. The answer is a resounding yes! An anxiety rash can appear at any age and with varying frequency. It can exacerbate a preexisting skin condition, or appear without any prior issues.
Most often, rashes are a response to your body’s immune system attacking anxious thoughts. Not everyone who has anxiety (even those who experience it daily) develops a skin rash, as each body reacts to stress and anxiety differently.

For someone who breaks out in anxiety rash, the body’s immune system is physiologically responding to increased levels of anxiety hormones. The immune system releases histamines to fight the anxiety. But since anxiety cannot be eliminated through histamines, the skin reacts to the histamine buildup by becoming dotted with a rash or hives.

Anxiety rash can appear as annoying itchy bumps all over the body or just on one area, such as the arms, torso, hands, etc. It can be in the form of hives that appear sporadically or become connected into massive areas. In severe cases, hives can last weeks, but most of the time they disappear after the anxiety-inducing situation subsides.

Anxiety Rash

Anxiety rash is caused most often by persistent tension or stress. Dealing with anxiety on a daily basis may be a norm for you, but when additional stress or anxiety-inducing situations are added, existing physical problems can become exacerbated, or new problems (like a rash) can form. 

This is because our body’s emotional wellbeing is directly tied to our physiological wellbeing. When one is compromised, the other is affected as well. The physical condition of your body can be more or less impacted depending on the amount of emotional stress or anxiety you’re feeling at any given point.
When you’re experiencing feelings of heightened anxiety, especially if those periods are prolonged, existing skin conditions can worsen, or new skin conditions, such as a rash can appear. A rash can pop up during some key stressful periods, such as the holidays, or while studying at school during exam season, or having relationship troubles. It can appear during a major life event, such as a wedding, divorce, or death in the family. Or, it can pop up here and there when you’re anticipating a stressful situation, such as public speaking or attending a big party.

The level of anxiety that induces a rash from anxiety will be specific to each person. One may not develop a rash until they’ve experienced a great deal of stress, while another may break out in a rash at the first flutter in the stomach. Having a rash isn't something to be embarrassed about and you are not alone.

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The Effects Of Anxiety Rash

Even though a rash from anxiety may be minor, they can be quite annoying, especially since their onset can be sudden and unexpected. An eye-catching rash can also attract unwanted attention, producing even more anxiety. While a little rash may not seem like a big deal, it can have a deep impact for the afflicted, emotionally and physiologically.

Emotional Effects:

Imagine you work in a public position as a teacher, and although you love and excel at your job, the moment when administrators come in to observe your class, the stress and anxiety causes you to break out in a rash that everyone notices. A situation like that can cause further stress and exacerbate the symptoms.
Some of us have become so adept at masking our anxiety that most people wouldn’t even realize we struggle with it on a daily basis. But when it manifests physically, hiding the anxiety becomes impossible and can be damaging to the individual’s self-esteem and confidence. In the case of the teacher, the quality of his lesson might decrease, as will his self-confidence and pride in his work.

Physiological Effects:

An anxiety rash is not life threatening, but they can be embarrassing and inconvenient. Your skin may feel uncomfortable, warm, and itchy. A rash can last anywhere from a few minutes to several days.

Anxiety rash is a common problem faced by thousands of people on a daily basis. So when you find yourself staring down at angry red bumps on your arm, remember, you’re not alone! And it’s easily treated.

Treating An Anxiety Rash

Since anxiety rash is essentially an autoimmune reaction to the high levels of stress in your body, non-prescription antihistamines can have some effect. If you know you’re prone to anxiety rash in certain situations, you can preemptively treat the condition. If you have more serious episodes of anxiety-induced rash, you can talk to your doctor about a prescription for stronger anti-inflammatory medication.

 
Other non-medicinal rash treatments include prevention. While preventing a rash is not always a possibility, there may be some situations where you can head off a rash-inducing episode before it occurs. If you find yourself in the middle of an intensely anxious situation, and you feel your body starting to react, try taking a break to reset and calm your mind through breathing and mindfulness exercises. It may not be possible given the particular situation (for instance if you’re anxious about flying and you’re in mid-air), but even a minute or two may be enough to stave off a rash.
You can also try reducing the amount of daily stress you experience by eating healthy, balanced, well-rounded meals, so your body can function at optimum efficiency. Exercising is another excellent, natural way to reduce anxiety, as it will help relieve stress by pumping your body with natural, feel-good endorphins. You don’t need to go out and run a marathon. Walking a few times a week is a great place to start. Just as long as you get your body moving enough to have those endorphins kick in and give your muscles an opportunity to stay strong.
Mindfulness and meditation are also good practices to observe on a daily basis to help flush out unwanted stress and refocus your mind on positive, non-ruminating thought patterns. The more you train your mind to block anxiety-inducing thoughts, the more control you will have over your physiological reactions.

But one of the best and most successful ways of treating an anxiety disorder and its symptoms is to seek professional help from a therapist.

Where Seeking Help Comes In

If you’re dealing with anxiety rash or other symptoms of anxiety that are hindering your ability to lead a successful and productive life, you need to reach out to a doctor or counselor for help. Anxiety and anxiety rash can become incredibly intrusive when you add physical symptoms and discomfort to the existing emotional toll.

A good place to start when it comes to discussing your concerns would be your family doctor. The doctor may look at your rash and ask questions about its frequency, intensity, and effects, and see if it’s something that can be addressed medicinally. For persistent and intense cases of rash, a good strategy includes involvement by both a medical professional and mental health professional because treating the underlying issue (anxiety disorder) can eliminate the physical symptoms.
 
Talking to a counselor or therapist, whether online or in person, is the best way of getting to the root of your issues and eliminating your anxiety. Therapy can help you discover the tools available to reduce daily stress, mitigate high anxiety situations, and avoid escalating stress levels to the point where your body reacts physically. If you’re unable or do not feel comfortable seeking help in person, or simply prefer the convenience of not having to leave your house, consider looking into online therapy options. Sites such as BetterHelp are dedicated to providing help and support for all kinds of mental and emotional issues. Licensed therapists are available to answer all your questions and be a supportive guide. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing similar issues.

 

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