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Anxiety Rash: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

March 29, 2023

Man scratching at an anxiety rash on his forearm

The brain has various ways of indicating that your body or mind requires extra attention or rest.

For example, anxiety and stress can manifest themselves through insomnia and tension. But can anxiety cause a rash?

Yes, bodily symptoms like rash or hives are a common thing for people with anxiety.

If you have hives or a rash and you’re sure an allergic reaction didn’t cause it, it could be an anxiety rash. Read on to learn about its causes, symptoms, and treatment.

Image of the skin showing Rash from anxiety


An anxiety rash is a skin irritation due to stress or anxiety. When you’re stressed or anxious, your adrenal glands release the hormone cortisol into your bloodstream.

It triggers a response from your immune system. The response manifests as a rash on your skin.

High-stress levels also prompt the sympathetic nervous system to release histamine into your bloodstream. The role of histamine is to trigger an attack against anything that threatens your body.

Therefore, histamine causes blood vessels to open and leak, releasing white blood cells in the affected area.

On your skin, you will notice redness or pinkness in the affected area.

Consequently, when there’s too much histamine in your blood, you will see rashes on several skin regions. Therefore, anxiety triggers the release of cortisol and histamine, which cause hives or a rash on your skin.


The leading causes of anxiety or stress rash include:

  • Family issues, such as the death of a loved one.
  • Financial constraints or a loss of a job.
  • Urgent deadlines.
  • Terminal illness or significant injury to oneself, relatives, or friends.
  • Marital separation.
  • Relationship disharmony.
  • Genetics. Individuals who have relatives with an anxiety disorder are more prone to experiencing anxiety.

When these stressors lead to chronic anxiety, you may develop a rash from stress.

Regular exercise helps treat and reduce anxiety rash


Anxiety hives usually have the following symptoms:

  • Itchy or irritated rash.
  • Red and bumpy welts.
  • Swellings underneath the skin.
  • The rash usually occurs when you’re stressed or anxious.
  • The rash disappears within 24 hours.

You will also notice other anxiety-related symptoms like:

  • Insomnia.
  • Irritability and restlessness.
  • Hypervigilance.
  • Feeling tense and on edge.
  • Expecting the worst, even in non-threatening situations.
  • Increased sweating.


There are several treatment options available for stress-related rash. First, like other rashes, you can use a cold compress on the affected areas.

The cold compress would reduce inflammation and irritation from the rash.

Other treatment options for hives from stress and anxiety include:


Medicines like antihistamines reduce histamine production in the body, which prevents stress-related rash.

You can also use a hydrocortisone cream to relieve the itching.

Since the rash occurs due to anxiety, anxiety medication will also reduce it.

Once your physician determines your anxiety disorder, they prescribe non-addictive anxiety medication. Examples of such drugs include antidepressants, beta-blockers, hydroxyzine, and buspirone.

CBT can help for anxiety rash

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioural therapy helps patients alter thought patterns and beliefs that cause anxiety.

Mindfulness, journaling, and guided meditation are CBT techniques that help patients develop a positive thought process.

By changing their negative or irrational beliefs, the patients develop patterns and behaviours that help them deal with anxiety.

Reduced anxiety translates to little or no rash caused by stress.


Exercise helps reduce stress or anxiety by releasing endorphins, which foster a sense of well-being.

Moreover, a regular exercise regime will help you manage your cortisol levels, and instead, your body produces anti-anxiety neurochemicals like serotonin and endocannabinoids while you exercise. 

You can try simple activities like walking, riding a bike, running, skipping rope, swimming, or aerobics to avert your mind from ruminative thoughts to the activities at hand.

Rigorous activities help ease muscle tension caused by anxiety. Additionally, ample exercise will help you have enough sleep, reducing several anxiety symptoms.

Coping Strategies

To speed up the process of recovering from the anxiety/stress rash, you can develop coping strategies in addition to treatment.

Learn a few relaxation techniques that will help you calm your mind and body down when you’re under an anxiety attack.

Control over your thoughts can help reduce physiological reactions like anxiety hives. Consider asking a therapist about other effective coping techniques that will help eliminate anxiety at an early stage.

In addition to the above-mentioned ones, these can include:

  • Identifying and eliminating your anxiety triggers.
  • Get regular and adequate sleep and exercise.
  • Limiting alcohol and caffeine intakes as they may trigger panic attacks.
  • Maintaining a positive outlook.
  • Joining a local community for support or volunteer work, which helps prevent ruminative thoughts that occur due to solitude.
  • Putting your stress in perspective and evaluating if things are as bad as you think. Accepting that some things are out of your control.
  • Journaling. Expressive writing will help you reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Scheduling time to do things you love to develop a sense of well-being.
  • Talking to someone like a therapist or friend you can trust.

When To Seek Professional Help

When the rash worsens and doesn’t respond to treatment, you should seek professional help. Moreover, when you notice additional symptoms like fever or scabs, contact your doctor for further diagnosis. Additionally, a rash can indicate a severe infection or allergic reaction. Seek immediate medical assistance once a rash covers most of your body, appears and spreads quickly, is painful, causes wheezing, and has a yellow discharge. 

Stress can have various dire effects on your body, including your skin. Chronic anxiety attacks can lead to anxiety rash or hives. If anxiety starts affecting your daily activities, social and personal well-being, and sleep, you need help from a mental health professional. Fortunately, there are several treatment options available. You can treat anxiety rash through medication, therapy, stress management techniques, and various prevention tactics.

More Reading

Editing by AskAwayHealth Team


All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising Medical Practitioners on various healthcare conditions to promote quality healthcare. 

The advice in our material is not meant to replace a qualified healthcare practitioner’s management of your specific condition.
Don’t hesitate to contact a health practitioner to discuss your condition or reach us directly 

Image Credits: Canva

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