What Might Be Causing Your Unexpected Hives
Hives are a very common skin reaction that can come from some unexpected sources. Some causes you might not have thought of include:
- Colds and other viral infections. Sometimes hives can be caused by your immune system fighting colds and other viral infections. These hives often appear near the end of your cold or virus as youre starting to feel better. Theyre most common in children but can happen to anyone.
- Bacterial infections. Bacterial infections such as strep throat or urinary tract infections can also sometimes trigger hives as your body reacts to the bacteria. These hives will fade as the antibiotics help your body fight the infection. They might peel before healing completely.
- Chronic conditions such as lupus. Hives that last for longer than 6 weeks might be a sign of an autoimmune condition such as lupus, type 1 diabetes,thyroid disease, or rheumatoid arthritis. These hives wont go away on their own. Its a good idea to make a medical appointment to get this type of hive checked out and see if a chronic condition is the cause.
- Stress. Stress can raise your internal body temperature and release adrenalin and other chemicals that might trigger hives. Stress hives tend to be located on the face, neck, chest, and arms. Theyre common in people with eczema, allergies, or sensitive skin.
How Are Chronic Hives Diagnosed
Chronic hives are diagnosed if you have a long history of daily or regular hives. Your doctor will take a family history and do a physical examination.
Inducible hives are often confirmed by inducing the reaction, such as scratching your skin in dermographism or applying an ice cube in suspected cold urticaria.
Your doctor may ask for blood tests to rule out underlying conditions.
Most People With Hives Do Not Need Tests
Tests are sometimes done when hives go on for long periods, or when unusual symptoms are occurring around the same time. This is to exclude other diseases, which may appear as hives first, and other conditions later. If hives are associated with high fever, bruising, bleeding into the skin, purple lumps that last for several days, or sore joints, a doctors appointment should be arranged promptly.
Allergy testing is performed when the history suggests an allergic cause.
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How To Treat Hives Breakout
Hives is an allergic reaction that is characterized by raised, red welts on the surface of the skin. This write-up provides information on ways to treat a hives breakout.
Urticaria, also known as hives, is a skin disorder that is characterized by red, itchy welts on the skin. When our skin comes in contact with allergens, histamines are released from the cutaneous mast cells into the bloodstream in order to fight against the allergenic substance. As a result of the release of histamines, fluid leaks from the superficial blood vessels that are present under the surface of the skin. This gives rise to the formation of red, raised itchy skin bumps. The diameter of these skin rashes could range from a few millimeters to several inches. These could appear on any part of the body. Generally, these raised areas of skin have a red margin and a pale center. The size, shape, and location of these raised portions of skin generally changes rapidly. Old welts might fade, as the new ones appear in just a few hours.
If you notice dark red, raised itchy areas on your skin that seem to be appearing, disappearing and reappearing on different parts of your body, you must consult a dermatologist soon. Since these allergic rashes are mainly caused due to the release of histamines, the treatment generally involves the use of antihistamines.
Lifestyle Triggers Are A More Common Cause
Stress is a part of life. That said, if you find yourself breaking out in hives after a stressful or emotional meeting at work, interaction with a family member, rush-hour traffic or any situation that may cause your emotions to go into overdrive, Blake said you need to deal with your stress in a healthy way. “Music, meditation, and obviously, avoiding any more exposure to the trigger is important,” he said.
If your stress if severe enough to cause hives, though, it may also be worth speaking with someone you trust, like a mental-health professional about managing your stress in a healthy way.
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Reasons Why You Might Be Breaking Out In Hives
Your workout may be to blame.
Hives are confusing AF: The oddly-shaped reddish spots can disappear and reappear faster than an ex-BF. As it turns out, these transient little buggers are actually quite commonthey affect about 20 percent of people at some point, says Whitney Bowe, M.D., a New York-based dermatologist. So, theres a decent chance you may experience hives in your lifetime .
Although the cause is sometimes obvious , oftentimes it can be difficult to figure out why, exactly, you have hives. The good news is that, for the most part, they don’t last more than 24 hours and are easily treated with antihistamines, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.
Here are a few reasons why you might find yourself covered in splotches:
1. You Take Certain MedicationsNon-steroidal anti-inflammatories , opioids , and antibiotics , can all make you break out in hives, says Bruce Brod, M.D., clinical professor of dermatology at the Perleman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, hives will usually develop within an hour of popping the pill.
How Is It Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will look at the hives and ask about your history of sensitivity to such things as:
- plants and pollens
- animals, such as an allergy to cats
- insect bites or stings
- exposure to heat, cold, or sunshine
To find the cause of your hives, the healthcare provider may suggest that you:
- Keep a detailed diary of everything you eat, drink, take as medicine, or are exposed to for 2 to 4 weeks.
- Avoid foods, one at a time, to which you may be allergic.
It is easiest to identify drugs, foods, or plants that may cause you to have hives because the response usually occurs within an hour. Identifying triggers such as emotional stress or multiple allergies may take more time. Identifying multiple allergies may require skin tests or other types of allergy tests.
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Favorite Resource To Find An Allergist
Generally, youll visit a primary care doctor first, but he or she may recommend you schedule an appointment with an allergist. The AAAIs Find an Allergist tool can help you find an allergist or immunologist close to where you live.
What If My Babys Hives Dont Go Away
Most cases of baby hives resolve in a few days or a few weeks. Occasionally, your baby will have hives for a prolonged period of time. If you saw your doctor for the initial bout of hives and the hives have continued for more than two weeks, you should call your doctor again.
Your doctor may want you to come in for another exam, they may refer you to a specialist, such as an allergist, or they may take a wait and see approach. Either way, prolonged hives, which come and go for months, do happen, and usually they are not a cause for alarm.
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How Are Hives Treated
The best treatment for hives is to find and remove the trigger, but this is not an easy task. Antihistamines are usually prescribed by your doctor to provide relief from symptoms. Antihistamines work best if taken on a regular schedule to prevent hives from forming in the first place.
Chronic hives may be treated with antihistamines or a combination of medications. When antihistamines don’t provide relief, oral steroids may be prescribed. A biologic drug, omalizumab , is also approved to treat chronic hives in people at least 12 years old.
What Does It Mean When You Break Out In Hives
Though they may be unsightly, hives can tell you important things about your body. Essentially, hives, or oddly-shaped reddish spots, appear when your body is allergic to something or your skin is aggravated in some way .
The most obvious culprit could be something that you have consumed, like shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, and berries, for example. This allergy to a particular food or beverage could be tricky to spot in some cases since some allergies do not present themselves until hours after the food in question is consumed. According to Health Magazine, an elimination diet can help you determine which food is causing the allergic reaction.
Spending time in the great outdoors could also introduce allergens and aggravators like “sunlight, heat, cold, grass, pollen, and dust mites,” dermatologist Lauren Ploch, M.D. told Women’s Health Magazine. Aside from environmental factors, your workout could also be causing your body to break out in hives. During a workout, the body produces a chemical called acetylcholine that, in some cases, causes a disruption in skin cells that irritates the skin and causes a rash that looks similar to hives. The excessive heat present in your body after a workout or other heat-inducing activity could also produce hives .
While external factors are the most common culprits behind a hives breakout, your emotions could also play a role in this allergic reaction.
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Seeking Emergency Medical Care
Call 911, especially if youre having trouble breathing. If you dont have an EpiPen, the ambulance will have epinephrine that paramedics can use to provide immediate treatment and will likely reach you much faster than having someone drive you to a hospital. Paramedics can get you to the hospital quickly and monitor your condition the entire time.
Never attempt to drive yourself to the hospital during anaphylaxis. Even if it is a very short drive, its not safe to attempt. You can lose consciousness rapidly.
If possible, after you call 911, keep someone with you until paramedics arrive.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, call 911.
A doctor may prescribe you an epinephrine injector, such as an EpiPen, for future allergic reactions. Theyll teach you how to use it and answer any questions you might have. Youll keep your epinephrine injector on hand and use it if you develop hives in the future.
Youll still need to visit the emergency room after you use your epinephrine injector, but it can stop anaphylaxis from becoming deadly.
Causes Of Hives In Babies
Hives in babies can be triggered by many different things, including medication, insect bites, allergic reactions, and temperature changes. Interestingly, in babies and young children, the most frequent trigger of hives are virusessometimes in a child who has mild virus symptoms or no symptoms at all.
But perhaps the most baffling aspect of hivesand one that frustrates worried parentsis that in the majority of cases, the cause of hives cant be identified. As the Academy Of American Pediatrics notes, a cause cant be identified in up to a third of all cases of hives in young children.
Still, that doesnt mean that hives dont have specific causes, or that these causes are not worth investigating.
Especially if your childs hives are bothering them, recurring frequently, or are accompanied by other concerning symptoms , its important to get to the root causes of the hives.
The causes of hives can be divided into two basic categories: non-allergic causes and allergic causes.
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Other Patterns And Symptoms Of Hives
- Hives usually appear in clusters they may remain active for an hour or two, disappear, and then show up somewhere else on the body
- Hives usually are itchysometimes very itchybut this is not always the case
- Hives in children may also be accompanied by swelling of the hands and feet
- Usually hives go away on their own in a matter of days or weeks, in rare cases, hives may last months or years
- Most cases of hives are not accompanied by other concerning symptoms, though they may be itchy and irritate your child
Stress Can Contribute To Hives Too
Stress can be a factor in hives, but its usually not an independent risk factor.
Stress usually isnt the direct cause, and primarily affects only individuals who are susceptible to hives, Friedman says. Both chronic and acute hives can be made worse by stress, especially in people more likely to get hives, such as women and people with autoimmune disorders.
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How Is It Treated
The treatment your healthcare provider recommends will depend on how serious your hives are. He or she may suggest that you do one or more of the following to relieve the itching and reduce the swelling:
- Soak in a lukewarm bath or use cool compresses.
- Avoid heat or rubbing, which releases more histamines.
- Take antihistamine medicine as directed by the label or your provider to reduce your allergic response.
If the rash is severe or not responding to the above treatments, your provider may prescribe an oral steroid medicine to take for a few days.
Hives rarely cause emergencies. But sometimes they can cause throat swelling and trouble breathing. If your throat is swelling or you are having trouble breathing or are wheezing, call 911. Once you are getting medical care, you will be given a shot of epinephrine to stop the reaction. When the emergency symptoms have been treated, you will probably be given steroid medicine–for example, prednisone–to take for the next several days to prevent the reaction from happening again.
Once the hives have gone and you are feeling better, you should see your healthcare provider to talk about whether you need tests to determine what caused the hives. If you are able to determine the cause, the best prevention is avoiding the cause, if that’s possible. Whether you are able to learn the cause or not, if hives are a frequent problem, you may need to take antihistamines every day to prevent the hives.
Causes And Risk Factors Of Hives
Although hives can have many causes, they all get their start when immune cells in your body called mast cells are activated. In many cases, those mast cells release a chemical called histamine that can cause swelling, itching, and redness. Although not all hives are the result of histamine being released, the vast majority are, Dr. Elmariah says. Heres the real question, though: Whats causing those mast cells to react in the first place?
Thats a relatively easy question to answer if you have acute hives. We can generally identify about 50 percent of the triggers after taking a good history of the patient and getting the full story behind the incident, Dr. Friedman says.
Chronic hives, however, often have different outcomes, and unfortunately, although about 50 percent of hive cases will be resolved within a year of entering the chronic phase, some people will have hives their entire life. With chronic hives, we can rarely identify why theyre happening, and the longer somebody has hives, the less likely it is that theyll go away, says Friedman, adding that 20 percent can continue for longer than 10 years.
Nonallergic causes consist of bacterial and viral infections exercise stress pressure on or scratching the skin chemical contact exposure to sun, heat, or cold and autoimmune disorders like thyroid diseases and lupus, especially in the case of chronic hives.
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Simply Scratching Your Skin Can Cause Hives
For a small percentage of the population,dermatographism, or skin writing can cause hive-like welts when you scratch, rub or apply pressure to your skin. Typically, there is an inappropriate release of histamine, which causes the hives to appear. If you’re experiencing this type of reaction, it’s best that you talk to your doctor about management and treatment.
Favorite Resource To Find A Dermatologist
Your primary care doctor may recommend that you visit a dermatologist instead of an allergist, depending on your symptoms and suspected triggers. If you dont currently have a dermatologist, visit this site from the American Academy of Dermatology. The Find a Dermatologist tool allows you to search by location or a specific doctors name. The results will show dermatologists that meet your search criteria. Click on the name to view more about the doctor, such as where theyre located, what they specialize in, and the qualifications they have.
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When To Call The Doctor
- The prescribed antihistamine medicine does not relieve the itching.
- The hives or itching becomes worse or new symptoms develop.
- Your child develops hives after being stung by an insect or after taking a new medicine or eating a certain food. He may need an EpiPen® to treat a more serious reaction next time.
HH-I-82 11/89, Revised 11/17, Nationwide Childrens Hospital
For Mild Cases Of Hives
- Your doctor may not prescribe any medication for your baby if the hives are mild and not particularly bothering them.
- If your baby is old enough, and your doctor thinks its warranted, they will recommend you give your baby an over-the-counter antihistamine. Keep in mind that most antihistamines are not recommended for babies under the age of two, so you must have clearance from your doctor, including proper dosage, before giving your child an antihistamine.
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