Is your Holiday stress causing you to break out in hives?

Reviewed by:  Kate Shuster, M.D., FAAD Board Certified Dermatology 


The holidays are supposed to be a joyful time that is spent celebrating with family and friends. While all the events can be fun, this time of the year can bring on a lot of stress. There can be stress due to a multitude of things ranging from travel to holiday planning. Frequent stress is bad for your health and can manifest itself in many ways, including hives or rashes.


How does stress affect your skin? 


Stress is known to worsen many skin conditions. Stress activates your nervous system which controls the fight or flight response. This in turn causes more secretion of adrenaline into your blood stream. Stress and adrenaline can cause your skin to be more reactive and can lead to an inflammation response of the skin. People who already suffer from skin conditions can experience stress related inflammation more easily. 


What are hives? 


Hives are red, itchy bumps or welts that are often swollen on the skin. Hives can occur anywhere on the body and can vary in the way they look from little individual bug bites to patches. Typically, stress hives are temporary and harmless. If they last longer than six weeks you may have a condition called chronic hives, in which they come and go in waves. 


How to manage flare ups? 


If you notice that you are getting hives, there are a couple of ways to manage the flare-up. You may want to try to identify what is causing your stress-induced hives and try to avoid those triggers. Stress management methods such as taking breaks when overwhelmed, getting plenty of sleep regularly, eating healthy meals, can help manage flare-ups. 


Although stress hives typically go away on their own, you can try over-the-counter medications with antihistamines, topical ointments, and cold compress. If your hives are persistent and do not go away within a certain amount of time, it is best to see a dermatologist. Hives can be dangerous if you have chronic hives or a serious allergy. If you experience face or throat swelling immediately get help. 


If you are experiencing hives and other skin flare ups, contact our office and schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified dermatologists. Our dermatologists will observe your symptoms to determine the best treatment plan for you. Call our office at (423) 954-9017 to schedule a consultation today!