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 commonly:
- 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
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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a (Angioedema; Urticaria)
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology http://www.aaaai.org
American Academy of Dermatology https://www.aad.org
Canadian Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Foundation https://www.allergyfoundation.ca/
Calgary Allergy Network http://www.calgaryallergy.ca
Acute urticaria. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/acute-urticaria. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Allergic skin conditions. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology website. Available at: http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/at-a-glance/allergic-skin-conditions. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Chronic urticaria. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/chronic-urticaria. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Hives. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/itchy-skin/hives. Accessed March 1, 2021.
Saini SS, Kaplan AP. Chronic spontaneous urticaria: the devil's itch. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2018;6(4):1097-1106.