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Stress Creates an Itching Response in the Skin

Scratch the Stress Away?


You can be sick with worry, but did you know you can also be itchy with stress? That's what researchers are saying. They believe that stress activates your immune system and causes an itchy reaction. Your skin is the first line of defense of your immune system when your body comes in contact with a virus. White blood cells attack incoming bacteria, but your immune skin cells can overreact, leading to inflammation, redness, and itching. Researchers think stress plays a role in the reaction because it can increase the number of immune cells in your skin. The more cells you have, the worse the reaction.

The researchers tested their theory on mice. I'm not sure how they did this (and I don't want to know), but they stressed some poor mice. Then, as they predicted, the scientists found an increase of white blood cells in the skin. This is elementary evidence that stress can lead to skin rashes, and may even worsen disorders such as psoriasis and dermatitis. One more reason to de-stress with some yoga, a hot bath, a cup of soothing chamomile tea, or a much-needed shoulder massage.

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