Stress Rash Making You Itchy? Here’s How to Make it Stop

A stress rash can break out if you buckle under pressure. Taking steps to manage the physical or mental tension works best to prevent a flare-up.

Woman scratching the back of her neck

If you’re stuck in an endless cycle of stressful events or tasks, here’s a word of caution – physical or emotional tension doesn’t just impair mental health but can reflect externally as a stress rash. 

Hence, identifying remedies that’ll address the problem holistically is necessary to prevent a recurrence of symptoms. Here are a few treatments that can do so effectively.

Woman sitting on a sofa smilingly with folded legs and her wrists on her knees
Mindful meditation induces relaxation by helping you let go of things that are out of your control.

Five Ways to Treat the Underlying Causes of a Stress Rash  

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) emphasises that optimal qi (vital life force) flow along the channels or meridians is fundamental to maintaining physiological health. Contrastingly, obstructed qi flow will destabilise the body’s yin and yang (passive and active energy, respectively) levels, increasing your body’s exposure to toxins and external pathogens.

“Stress disrupts qi flow, increasing the formation of various toxins and pathogens. These, in turn, wreak havoc and cause disorders of the vital viscera, including the Heart, Liver, Spleen, and Lungs. The Lungs are more delicate than the other organs and will be particularly vulnerable to these toxins and pathogens. Skin health relates directly to the Lungs. Because of this, skin conditions can transpire when you’re stressed”, explains Real Health Medical Senior Physician Brandon Yew. 

Munch your way to better control over stress rash triggers 

Being put under enormous pressure can lead to poor dietary choices. For instance, you’ll likely indulge in high-calorie foods coated in oil or sugar instead of nutrient-dense options. Over time, excessive consumption of these foods can be detrimental to your skin. Separately, TCM believes that foods have cooling and heating properties. Multiple skin conditions can arise from excessive heat in the body, including rashes.

Hence, you should eat bananas, watermelon, and green, leafy vegetables. These are cooling in nature and can regulate heat by counterbalancing yin and yang. Bitter herbs like dandelions (pu gong ying, 蒲公英) and mustard greens (jie cai, 芥菜) too, can be consumed for the same effect.

Let go of the past, live for the present 

Psychological control is integral to stress management. Mindfulness lowers the nervous system’s stress response, thus helping to control the emotion. The technique comprises two phases – attention and acceptance.

Attention describes an awareness of the present. It focuses on how you breathe, your thoughts and feelings, and the physical sensations you’re experiencing. The acceptance phase requires you to embrace those feelings and sensations and let them go without judgment.

A traditional breathing exercise called Qigong is simple enough to be practiced within your personal space. Firstly, sit on a straight-back chair. Ensure that your head, neck, and spine are aligned. Place your hands on your abdomen and take a slow, deep breath. Pause at the top of the breath and channel your focus on how it feels to breathe deeply. Exhale slowly, making sure to empty all the air from your abdomen and lungs. Do this continuously for several minutes.

Knuckle down on pressure points for stress relief

A hands-on approach that involves the stimulation of acupressure points can directly influence the body’s energy flow.

“Apply a suitable amount of pressure to elicit soreness or a numbing sensation. Massage each acupoint in a clockwise and counter-clockwise motion 20 times. Repeat for a minimum of three minutes for each acupoint”, advises Physician Yew. These will help remove energy blocks, restore circulation, and achieve yinyang equilibrium.

However, acupressure alone won’t calm a stress rash. Instead, it should be used alongside other treatment modalities. A few of the points that can be worked on are: 

  • Xue hai (SP10, 血海) 
  • Qu chi (LI11, 曲池) 
  • Yu ji (LU10, 鱼际) 
  • Shen men (HT7, 神门) 
  • Zu san li (ST36, 足三里) 
  • Tai chong (LR3, 太沖) 

Seek professional help 

Self-management techniques for stress may be ineffective or take longer than expected to be beneficial. Seeking consultation with a licensed TCM practitioner can help you discover the principal reasons behind your stress rash. Subsequently, a practitioner will also propose treatments that tackle the condition head-on.

Alternative treatments can be used to combat stress. Acupuncture treatment uses needles to target the body’s energy points. Tuina is a type of medical massage to enhance qi movement. Cupping therapy calls for the use of small cups to create a vacuum effect on the skin surface, encouraging a better flow of qi and increasing blood and fluid circulation.

Go herbal or go home 

Herbal ingredients can be part of a comprehensive stress rash treatment regimen. Studies show that many of these ingredients also possess anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

A tea infused with American ginseng (xi yang shen, 西洋参) can suppress the accumulation of heat toxins in the body. Chrysanthemum (ju hua, 菊花), forsythia (lian qiao, 连翘), Angelica root (dang gui, 当归), and fineleaf schizonepeta (jing jie, 荆芥) can alleviate itchiness and inflammation while restoring skin complexion. 

However, Physician Yew cautions, “Never self-medicate. Instead, seek a professional’s prescription when using herbal formulas or ingredients. You’ll be able to treat the root cause of a stress rash based on your unique body constitution.” 

Micro-changes can go a long way in keeping stress rash flare-ups at bay. Keeping this guide on hand will help you stay prepared for an onset of this skin problem. 

This is an adaptation of an article, “ 5 Ways to Ease Stress Rash Symptoms“, which first appeared on All Things Health’s website.

References

  1. American Psychological Association. 2019. Mindfulness meditation: A research-proven way to reduce stress. [online] [Accessed 8 June 2022] 

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