Hives are often caused when the body releases a chemical called histamine. Histamine is released during an allergic reaction. Many people, though, get hives without being exposed to something they are allergic to.
Things that may cause hives are:
- Food allergies or reactions, most
- Fish or shellfish
- Wheat or soy
- Insect bites or stings
- Pressure, cold, heat, or sun
- Certain health problems, such as:
- Viral infections, such as HIV infection, hepatitis, and cytomegalovirus
- Immune system problems
- Vasculitis (inflamed blood vessels)
- Thyroid disease—hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism
- Some cancers, such as lymphoma
- Diabetes Type 1
Symptoms of hives can vary from mild to severe. They may include:
- Itchiness, redness, and swelling
- Excessive swelling of the eyelids, lips, or genitals
- Burning or stinging
- Problems breathing or swallowing
The goal is to find and avoid the cause of hives.
Medicines may help to ease symptoms and manage the cause. They may be applied to the skin or taken as a pill. They may include:
- Leukotriene antagonists
- Anti-inflammatory medicines
- Medicines to treat the immune system
Other treatments may include:
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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