Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, see our mental health web guide which can point you to expert advice.

Scratching/itching due to stress?

(17 Posts)
Shalalalalala Wed 16-Aug-17 10:28:06

Didn't know where to put this so hope it's the best place.

I'm currently in the middle of a deeply stressful time of my life (not going to detail it here, but it involves all the life events you would expect to be stessful: ending an abusive relationship & rebuilding my life as a single parent).

I'm probably at the peak of my stress at the moment and a strange thing keeps happening. I feel the need to scratch and itch my body regularly. It's not drawing blood (yet), but I'm worried if it carries on it might damage the skin and get worse. It's mainly at the back of my neck, head and tops of my shoulders but the itching can be anywhere really.

Is this likely to be triggered by stress? I've never had this symptom before and don't really know what to do about it. I've been having tension headaches too recently, which is something I rarely get as well.

Also, I don't have eczema or psoriasis or anything like that.

Thanks if anyone has experienced this.

MebeingMe Wed 16-Aug-17 16:00:02

Can I ask if you are on any medication? As this may be a side effect?
If not then this may be some sort of physiological coping mechanism that you are subconsciously using to manage or relieve your stress on a daily basis.

Shalalalalala Wed 16-Aug-17 16:19:50

No I'm not on any medication of any kind. It's really odd, because I was out with a friend just now and don't remember scratching, but as soon as I was back in the car, the itch returned, and am doing it now.

MebeingMe Wed 16-Aug-17 16:45:26

Have you ruled out any new chemicals you may have started using recently? Washing power, perfume, air fresheners, new bedding ect ect??
Do you generally find yourself scratching less when you are busy or distracted?? As you mentioned, whilst you was out with your friend you couldn't remember scratching, this is what makes me think that it's almost like a subconscious involuntary coping mechanism.

doggyg Wed 16-Aug-17 16:50:57

I get this when I'm stressed too and agree with MebeingMe that it's like an involuntary coping mechanism. I've never drawn blood but have had bruises due to scratching.

Shalalalalala Wed 16-Aug-17 16:56:57

No new products or chemicals - I'm a low user anyway of things like that.
Doggyg, is there anything you have found you can do to reduce the itching? I'm managing my situation as best as I can and have supports in place, so this has really perplexed me.

MebeingMe Wed 16-Aug-17 19:05:50

Do you mind me asking what you mean by having support in place? Do you mean support regarding your previous life events? I'm unaware of your daily routine but I think taking up a new hobbie or trying to keep your mind distracted , ( reading,art, music, walking,ect) could help keep you occupied and distracted in order to reduce the scratching.

Sittinginthesun Wed 16-Aug-17 19:11:09

it's probably not the same, but I seem to get a recurring itch that flares up when I'm stressed. It's on the back of my hand, there's nothing visible, but it itches like hell.

I was very stressed at the weekend, as my FIL died, and a minute into a phone call, I realised I was scratching it again. Very strange.

I put an icepack on it when it is really bad, but obviously the best thing is to reduce the stress. Easier said than done.

blamethecat Wed 16-Aug-17 19:15:53

I have had similar but I self diagnosed after the doctor suggested I was allergic to cats hmm I got it every summer when I sat exams, then during other high stress periods. I bruised myself on a regular basis . I took anti-hystimines when it got really bad which seemed to help.

MebeingMe Wed 16-Aug-17 19:27:27

Sittinginthesun Your right it is definitely easier said then done with regards to reducing stress. Stress can cause a lot of changes in our bodies, from change of eating habits to scratching to hair lol as ect ect . Everyone's bodies react differently to stress, personally my eating habits change (for the worse) when I'm stressed.
Blamethecat , can I ask if you genuinely believe the anti-hystinines helped or whether it was a case of mind over matter.

Shalalalalala Wed 16-Aug-17 19:32:43

Mebeingme, I just mean I am not dealing with all of my problems single-handedly. I have people around me to help with both the practical & emotional side of things, so I am lucky in that regard.

I suppose if it persists, I will have to see my GP about it, but I can imagine as soon as I tell them about my personal circumstances, they probably won't be surprised.

As for hobbies etc. - it's the summer holidays, three kids...I have enough on my plate haha!

erinaceus Wed 16-Aug-17 19:52:21

I get this. I do not worry about it. It goes away when the stress gets less again.

The immune system (itching) and endocrine system (stress response) are joined together. The details of the connection are not fully worked out yet. Unless I have reason to believe that what I have might be a fungal infection I leave it or use a bit of Eurax or a topical corticosteroid if the itching is unbearable.

If it bothers you that much you could see the GP. A pharmacist might also be able to help by suggesting some anti-itching cream.

MebeingMe Wed 16-Aug-17 20:04:13

When I was suffering from depression and anxiety (especially anxiety) I dreaded going to the GP and discussing it, everyone's story is different and their symptoms are different which resulted in me thinking mine wasn't as relevant as everyone else's.
I had an amazing support network which consisted of my family members that I was extremely close too, yet I still felt isolated and alone, I didn't want to unload my problems on them, which in turn restricted me verbalising how I truly felt.
They may not be surprised but they may be able to give advice according to your own personal circumstances.
I totally understand that during the summer holiday it can be hard to find "YOU" time but any activities that will keep you busy and take your mind off things will help, even if it includes the children. ( going out for a walk, arts and crafts or baking ect ect

Squeegle Wed 16-Aug-17 20:23:24

I get this. On my hands. I think it's stress too.

Gotanewusernamenow Wed 16-Aug-17 20:29:04

Until you see the doctor I would recommend any antihistamine.

blamethecat Wed 16-Aug-17 20:51:52

To be honest I'm not sure if they did help, if it was mind over matter or just that I got to a point where I decided enough was enough with the scratching that i took then, but also I was near the end of the cycle. I knew it was bad when colleagues told me to go to the gp otherwise they would take meblush

Gotanewusernamenow Wed 16-Aug-17 20:54:46

Oh dear they didn't work.

Well I would definitely see the doc. I'm sure they could give you something.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: