Hives Caused by Allergens, Stress and More

Health Minute

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If you have ever ended up with red, itchy welts (bumps) on your skin, you’re probably among the 20 percent of people who are affected by hives, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). 

Hives are usually caused by an allergic reaction, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon (NIH).

Some things that could trigger hives as an allergic reaction, according to the according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), include:

  • allergy shots
  • animals
  • bug bites and stings
  • food
  • medication
  • pollen
  • touching something you are allergic to, such as latex or rust

The AAD states that other than an allergic reaction, hives can be caused by:

  • contact with chemicals
  • excessive sweat
  • exercise
  • exposure to extreme cold, heat, sun, or water
  • infections, such as colds and mononucleosis
  • pressure on the skin
  • scratching the skin
  • sicknesses, including lupus, leukemia, and thyroid disease
  • stress

Hives can happen within minutes of exposure to the allergen or the situation, according to the AAD. Or, it can take a few hours for them to appear. 

They can show up on any area of the body and can disappear and reappear, according to the ACAAI. Pressing the center of a hive will cause it to turn white, which is called blanching.

Doctors can typically diagnose hives by looking at them. If you have a history of allergies, it’s important to visit a doctor to find out what is causing the hives so you can avoid it, according to the NIH.

If you only have a few hives, you should not need any specific treatment. They should go away on their own, according to the NIH.

To help keep itching to a minimum, the NIH recommends:

  • avoid hot baths or showers
  • take diphenhydramine (known as Benadryl)
  • wear loose-fitting clothing

If your hives are severe – especially if the swelling involves your throat – it might be necessary to visit an emergency room for medication so your airway doesn’t become blocked, according to the NIH.

Find more information about hives or find a physician.

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