Though itchy skin can be attributed to many different physical conditions, it can often be triggered by stress. The connection between stress and itching may be due to an immune system response that causes the body to itch in response to stress. This skin inflammation can result in temporary to minor itching problems.
People who experience stress hives may be well aware of the relationship between itchy skin and anxiety or stress. Many people break out in a skin rash, hives, or other skin bumps when experiencing severe anxiety. This skin irritation can be very similar to the same types of breakouts people experience when exposed to poisonous plants or other allergens. Psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis are also thought to possibly be connected to stress.
When stress and itching occur together, the itching is considered to be a psychological response to the body's distress. This relationship between stress and itching is thought to be an example of a mind to body connection. In addition to stress causing such itching, it can also exacerbate itching already in progress from other causes, such as allergic reactions or other physical conditions.
Physicians emphasize that the relationship between stress and itching is not a made up illness to be taken lightly. Instead, when stress and itching occur simultaneously, they should be treated like any other illness. Such levels of stress may be helped with the aid of a family physician or a psychiatrist. Another underlying cause, such as a physical illness, could be present as well.
Itching due to stress is not generally a serious symptom by itself; the stress or other underlying condition, however, could potentially present a danger depending upon what it is. In any case, this itching can be very irritating and even painful. Sufferers of itching should refrain from scratching the affected area as much as possible, since doing so can both aggravate the condition as well as create more problems, such as bleeding or infection.
Several remedies can be used to combat this itching. Applying a cold compress to the area can often help. Many itch sufferers report finding relief from a lukewarm oatmeal bath. Patients with chronic itching may require a prescription remedy, such as an oral medication or topical treatment.
In order to prevent such skin irritation from stress in the future, patients are usually advised to seek ways to reduce their stress levels. This can be done through a variety of means, such as exercise, yoga, or meditation techniques. Some patients may make drastic lifestyle changes, from losing weight to changing careers. Others may be provided with anti-anxiety medication from their physicians.