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Antidepressants are prescription psychotropic medications that treat several mental health conditions, including:

Yet while antidepressants help relieve symptoms of the above conditions for many people, they can also cause a range of side effects, such as:

Another potential side effect you might experience? Eczema: a condition in which your skin becomes dry, itchy, and inflamed.

The relationship between Depression., antidepressants, and eczema can be confusing, in part because in some cases, antidepressants can help treat symptoms of eczema. What’s more, evidence also supports a strong link between eczema and Depression..

Below, find out what experts currently know about the link between antidepressants, eczema, and Depression., plus get answers to your questions about managing eczema symptoms while taking antidepressants.

According to a 2014 review of clinical trials, eczema can happen as a side effect of the following drugs:

According to the review, most people taking antidepressants don’t experience any skin-related side effects. Even if you do, you’re more likely to experience excess sweating or acne.

“It will appear in the first few days after you start taking the medication. If you have a skin reaction, you don’t need to stop taking your medication to get rid of it.”

Older tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) tend to cause more side effects than the newer selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). According to 2014 research, roughly 1 in 1,400 people taking TCAs report skin changes, compared to about 1 in 2,000 people taking SSRIs.

Some people with an allergy to antidepressants have symptoms. Sweat and serotonin are two mechanisms that are being considered.


Too little and too much sweat can contribute to the condition.

Citalopram, paroxetine, and sertraline can all dry out your skin and decrease the amount of sweat you produce. This process, called anhidrosis, may damage your skin and make it extra sensitive.

But excess sweating, or hyperhidrosis, tends to happen more commonly as an antidepressant side effect than a lack of sweat. If perspiration sits on your skin for too long without getting cleaned off, the chemicals in your sweat could irritate your skin.


The antidepressants may increase the amount of the brain chemical serotonin in your body.

In one 2015 study, mice scratch their skin much more frequently after SSRI injections, which suggests they feel itchier. However, humans usually take SSRIs in pill form, not directly in the skin via needle.

Unusual activity in your nerves’ serotonin receptors has been shown to cause itching in humans as well as in mice. That said, only one case report, from 2004, found evidence to suggest oral antidepressants may affect human skin serotonin levels enough to cause symptoms.

A man taking fluoxetine developed a rash after eating chocolate. The authors theorize that the chocolate and fluoxetine increased his overall serotonin levels, and that his skin may have been sensitive to this change.

Future research involving humans may offer more support for this theory.

Mirtazapine is sometimes prescribed off-label to treat nighttime itching caused by eczema.

fluoxetine and sertraline are both antidepressants that can be prescribed by a doctor to help reduce itching and inflammation.

Experts have not yet determined how antidepressants can help with the relief of symptoms from the skin condition. Possible mechanisms include:

Reducing peripheral inflammation

When your immune system senses your skin is being attacked, it sends microscopic agents to fend off the invader. The ensuing inflammation can create tender bumps and hot rashes that characterize eczema. Inflammation may also send itching signals as an alarm bell to tell your brain that something is wrong.

Inflammation on the edges of your nervous system can be reduced by using SSRIs. Your immune system should start to heal once it settles down.

Dampening your perception of the itch

Serotonin can contribute to itchiness.

Oral antidepressants mostly raise the serotonin levels in your central nervous system (CNS), not the nerves on the surface of your skin. But antidepressants can also prompt your CNS to suppress the itch signals coming in from your skin. Your brain lowers the strength of the itching — something like turning down the volume on a radio — so it doesn’t overwhelm you.

This process seems to be prompted by SSRIs.

Lowering stress levels

Stress can raise your cortisol levels and cause inflammation all across your body. It’s a well-known trigger of eczema episodes.

Lowering your cortisol can reduce inflammation.

“antidepressants don’t just combat inflammation They can help prevent it from happening in the first place.”

According to a large 2020 study, adults with eczema are 14% more likely to develop Depression. than people without eczema. The more severe your eczema, the higher your Depression. risk:

  • Mild eczema: 10% higher risk
  • Moderate eczema: 19% higher risk
  • Severe eczema: 26% higher risk

Given this pattern, it may seem pretty clear that eczema can contribute to Depression.. Yet the study authors caution this link may not always translate to a cause-effect relationship.

You might get a diagnosis of eczema before a diagnosis of Depression., but that doesn’t automatically mean eczema came first. Unlike an eczema rash or dry skin, symptoms of Depression. may be less recognizable, especially when they first appear.

Other potential explanations

It’s also possible both eczema and Depression. might relate to a third factor, such as:

Some cases of eczema may actually happen as a result of underlying factors, not as an antidepressant side effect.

Just as eczema can have many triggers, a range of factors typically contribute to Depression..

For instance, the physical changes often caused by eczema, including rashes and scarring, may also affect self-image and self-esteem — both of which can play a part in Depression..

Of course, in many cases, eczema may have nothing to do with Depression. or antidepressant treatment.

Eczema can have many environmental triggers, including:

  • It is hot or cold.
  • There is a lot of pollen.
  • There is a mold.
  • tobacco smoke
  • Synthetic fabrics are scratchy.
  • Personal care products include scented soaps, shaving gels, and other products.
  • Preservatives in cleaning products.

Some non-antidepressant medications can also cause eczema, including:

How do you know if your skin is affected by something? You can keep a record of when your eczema appears.

For example, if your eczema always gets worse after laundry day, you may want to consider changing detergents. But if your eczema episodes happen regularly, regardless of your schedule or external factors, it likely relates to something internal, such as medication or chronic stress.

Another good option involves reaching out to a doctor or dermatologist for allergy testing. They’ll place tiny amounts of allergens into a tool that lightly scratches your skin. If your skin reacts to the exposure, then your eczema may relate to an allergy.

“You don’t have to stop taking antidepressants to get rid of your eczema. Your doctor may be able to switch you to a medication that doesn’t affect your skin.”

Basic self-care practices can also go a long way toward reducing symptoms of both eczema and Depression.. If you have both eczema and Depression., the National Eczema Association recommends:

Here is how to make a self-care list.

These remedies are for specific relief of the skin condition.

If you have severe, persistent eczema that doesn’t respond to over-the-counter (OTC) treatment, a good next step might involve connecting with a dermatologist.

They can prescribe medications that modify your immune system, provide wet wrap therapy, and offer guidance on other treatment options.

“Some people may have symptoms of eczema due to the use of antidepressants. Scientists don’t know why this reaction happens, and antidepressants can be used to treat itching and other conditions.”

Drug-Induced Eczema is mild and responds to OTC remedies. If you experience any of the symptoms of an ederly antidepressant, it is worth asking your doctor or psychiatrist about trying another medication.

“Since your eczema could have a different cause, it’s beneficial to consult a dermatologist about your symptoms and potential triggers.”

Emily Swaim is a freelance health writer and editor who specializes in psychology. She has a BA in English from Kenyon College and an MFA in writing from California College of the Arts. In 2021, she received her Board of Editors in Life Sciences (BELS) certification. You can find more of her work on GoodTherapy, Verywell, Investopedia, Vox, and Insider. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.