The lumps, bumps, stinging, and itching of hives are no fun. If you’re one of the 15-20% of people who experience them at some point, you’ll probably do just about anything to avoid recurrent flare ups. Understanding what causes hives can help you take steps to lower your risk for these symptoms.
Dr. Shailee Madhok and the team of allergy specialists at Regional Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Center in Kingsport and Johnson City, Tennessee, and Abingdon, Virginia, are experts in hives management. Take a few moments to learn more about hives, including common triggers.
Hives can appear unexpectedly and last for a few weeks, or linger on, with flare ups occurring daily for six or more weeks. Medically known as urticaria, the pink, red, or white welts typically burn, itch, or sting.
Hives most often form when your body has a strong reaction to a perceived irritant, which brings on the release of histamine. Once histamine is produced, your blood vessels can leak blood plasma, which fuels those bothersome, swollen spots.
Most anyone can develop hives, but your risk is higher if you have a family history of hives, allergies, skin sensitivities, or frequent viral infections. Certain medications, such as aspirin and morphine, may also make you more susceptible.
Common hives triggers
Hives can form for a range of factors, which affect people differently. Some of the most common hives triggers include:
Allergies are the leading cause of hives. Your body perceives an allergen, such as a particular food, medication, type of pet dander, pollen, or bug bite, as toxic and alerts your body to produce histamine.
For some people, an infection fuels hives outbreaks. Bacterial infections, for example, such as strep throat and urinary tract infections, are common culprits. Viral infections known to trigger hives include the common cold, hepatitis, and mononucleosis.
3. Tight-fitting clothing
If you’re prone to hives, you may want to switch to looser-fitting clothing. Pressure on your skin, known as dermatographism, causes hives flare ups for some people. If you’re among them, everything from tight undergarments to jeans with snug waistbands should be avoided.
4. Hot or cold temperatures
If you’re especially sensitive to cold or hot temperatures, you may find that changes in the season, weather, or your environment bring hives on. Intense exercise or lengthy time on a hot beach or wintertime skiing, for example, could spur your symptoms.
5. Chronic diseases
If you have a chronic illness that involves or affects your immune system’s reactions, you may also have to manage chronic hives. Some of the conditions linked with hives include celiac disease, lupus, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or thyroid disease. In many cases, managing the underlying disease also minimizes hives symptoms.
What to do about hives
If you’re bothered by hives, Dr. Madhok and her allergy expert team can help you identify your personal triggers and create a treatment plan to help alleviate your symptoms when they crop up. Your plan may include:
- Anti-itch balm
- Trigger avoidance
To learn more about hives or get the care you need, call Regional Allergy Asthma & Immunology Center or contact us through our website.