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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.


Join The Conversation
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
huh - this is something that i didn't know about - and i have to agree with you that i don't want to know what they did to the poor mice. :( that would be sad. anyway, it does make sense - cause i get itchy when i'm stressed but i never really put 2 and 2 together.
Tiger_Lily Tiger_Lily 8 years
Omg I totally get itchy when I'm stressed! The night before a big test I can't sleep and itchy like crazy. I always thought it was mosquito bites and it was just bad luck that I get bitten before every test :X
hyzenthlay20 hyzenthlay20 8 years
When I get really stressed out I break out in eczema on my eyelids. It's absolutely awful.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I think this happens to my husband a lot. Whenever he's stressed out, he gets really itchy and uncomfortable.
Taadie Taadie 8 years
When I get suddenly scared, like when I stop short while driving or if I suddenly hear a loud noise, my head and neck itch like crazy for 10 or so seconds. I guess that's the same thing...
catgirl1 catgirl1 8 years
Actually, hot baths are not good for people with itchy skin. I have mild eczema, and my skin gets really itchy in the winter. I took a hot bath last night to soothe an aching back, and now I am itchy all over! I'm sure it would help to put oatmeal or something in the bath, but my dermatologist told me baths are a "no no" for people with dry skin.
foxie foxie 8 years
They subjected the mice to unrelenting, loud, repetitive noise to make them stressed. They were probably isolated, too. Isolated animals subjected to stressful situations lose their sanity fast. It's heartbreaking. Psychological testing on animals is, in my opinion, the most cruel of all animal testing and vivisection.
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