Hives: Can Stress Trigger Itchy Skin or Hives?

When COVID-19 hit in early 2020, most companies shifted to work-from-home arrangements, making it a little challenging to get used to, especially for those accustomed to physical working spaces. We’ve also had to manage the lack of structure, blurring lines of work and personal life, distractions, and constant changes in this period. Even as we gradually return to workplace today, it can look and feel different from before and all of these can cause some degree of stress and affect mental health1

The important thing to remember here is that stress is a completely normal part of life. Everybody goes through it, and we’re probably only getting to know different kinds of stress under these extraordinary circumstances. Stress can also come from any kind of event or thought, good and bad ones. But do take note that too much of it can bring about a negative impact on your general health, making it crucial to take necessary preventative measures.

Stress and rashes

You may or may not be aware that stress can cause stress rashes and skin to itch. If you are prone to skin allergies or conditions like eczema or psoriasis, your doctor may have advised you to keep stress at bay and relax. Have you ever wondered why?

Stress does not only affect your mind, it can also affect your whole body. You may not feel the physical changes as strongly as the emotional changes, but they can be at work in the background. Stress releases hormones and other chemicals such as histamines, that can trigger allergy symptoms like stress rashes to flare-up.

Symptoms of stress rashes

Stress rashes can affect any part of the body but it is often found on the face, neck, chest or arms. Here are some of the common allergies due to stress:

  • Hives on skin or urticaria

Hives on the body, also known as urticaria , are one of the most common reactions of your skin to stress. Hives are small, red swollen bumps on your skin that may be itchy or cause a burning or tingling sensation. Stress can cause hives as well as worsen existing hives. You can also get hives on the skin from allergic reactions to certain foods, dust and pollen .

  • Itchy skin

When a person is stressed, it also affects their nervous system and creates sensory symptoms like itchy skin. When you scratch your skin, it can cause more histamine to release, which will lead to more itch and it becomes a vicious cycle. Try to avoid scratching the rash to prevent making it worse7.

How to manage hives and itchy skin

Fortunately, most stress-induced rashes go away on their own within a few days though they may return and can sometimes persist for as long as six weeks. Allergies hives and itchy skin can be managed effectively when we put the right measures and treatment into motion. Here are some tips and remedies to manage them:

  • Use antihistamines like Clarityne® to help fend off allergies and prevent the growth of histamine , which is responsible for creating allergy -causing symptoms6.
  • Stress rashes like hives are fairly common and easy to deal with. Learn to identify stress triggers in your daily life and actively avoid them to help manage your stress levels. You could even reach out to a close friend or family member for emotional support if it becomes too overwhelming.
  • Practicing a healthy lifestyle and eating a well-balanced diet on a daily basis can help strengthen our body’s immune system and help to manage stress by reducing the stress hormone cortisol. Getting enough sleep ensures that the body recharges itself.

If you notice hives or rash-like reactions, it would be helpful to pen down a brief history of the last few days. This can help you identify possible causes of itchy skin or hives and narrow down to the actual stressors. Perhaps you used a different detergent for laundry, or began a new type of diet, or maybe starting a new form of medication. These factors can be easily eliminated, and if you are feeling more stressed than usual, it is possible that stress is responsible for them. Learning to manage your stress today can make for a stress-free and allergy-free tomorrow.


  1. How to balance work life and stress. Assesses June 25,2021
  2. Hormones responsible for acnes. Assessed July 23,2018
  3. Guide to avoid asthma attacks. Assessed May 26,2021
  4. All about antihistamines. Assessed
  5. Can Stress Cause Hives, Accessed February 17, 2022 
  6. What to do when stress gives you hivesv. Accessed May 4, 2022