Causes Of Hives You Never Expected

Hives are itchy welts that can appear on your skin. They're often red and raised, and they can range in size from a few millimeters to several centimeters. Hives can appear anywhere on your body, including your face, lips, tongue, throat, hands, and feet (via WebMD). They're usually the result of an allergic reaction to something you've come into contact with, but they can sometimes have other causes.

Hives usually go away on their own within a few days or weeks. However, if they last longer than six weeks, they're considered chronic hives. Chronic hives can be very itchy and disruptive to your life. Hives are usually not serious and go away on their own within a few days or weeks. However, if you have chronic hives, it's important to see your doctor so they can rule out any underlying medical conditions and help you find relief from your symptoms. Here are some reasons you're breaking out in hives that you might not have expected.

Underlying medical conditions

There are many different medical conditions that can lead to the development of hives. Some of the more common underlying medical conditions that have been linked to hives include allergies, viral infections, bacterial infections, autoimmune disorders, and thyroid problems (via Cleveland Clinic). However, this is not an exhaustive list by any means. If you are experiencing hives and have an underlying medical condition, it is important to speak with your doctor to determine if there is a link.

Allergies are one of the most common underlying causes of hives (via Healthline). Allergies can be triggered by a variety of things such as certain foods, pet dander, pollen, or dust. If you have an allergy, your body will release histamines in an attempt to fight off the allergen. Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to the development of hives. If you suspect that your hives are being caused by an allergy, it is important to speak with your doctor so that you can avoid triggers and possibly treat the allergy itself. Viral and bacterial infections can also cause hives, as well as other medical conditions including asthma, liver disease, and some types of cancer.

Your diet

If you tend to break out in hives after eating certain foods, you may have a food allergy. According to Mayo Clinic, the most common food allergies are to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, and berries. Shellfish and fish allergies are also relatively common. If you think you have a food allergy, the smartest next step is to book an appointment with your doctor. Some people know right away that they're allergic to something because they'll get a rash after eating it. For others, though, the reaction isn't immediate; symptoms might not show up for several hours. Your doctor will likely ask you about your symptoms and when they occur in relation to eating certain foods. They may also recommend that you keep a food diary to help pinpoint the allergen.

Hives are a relatively mild symptom of food allergies. Serious allergies can also cause anaphylaxis, which is a potentially life-threatening reaction that can cause trouble breathing and a drop in blood pressure. Symptoms include swelling of the throat or tongue, dizziness, fainting, and nausea. If you suspect you have a food allergy, it is important to visit a doctor to ensure you are prepared in case you accidentally eat something you're allergic to.

The outdoors

If you find yourself breaking out in hives every time you go hiking or camping, the outdoor elements may be to blame. Also known as urticaria, hives can be triggered by exposure to certain elements, such as heat, cold, or pressure. If you have hives that seem to be related to the outdoors, you may have a condition called physical urticaria (via Rare Diseases). Physical urticaria is a type of hives that's caused by a physical stimulus, such as heat, cold, or pressure. The hives usually appear within minutes of exposure to the trigger and can last for a few hours or even days. While the condition is not necessarily dangerous, it can be very uncomfortable. There are a few things you can do to help manage your symptoms and avoid triggers.

According to WebMD, wearing loose-fitting clothing can help prevent hives that are triggered by pressure. And if you know you'll be exposed to cold weather, dress in layers to help keep your skin warm. If heat is a trigger for you, stay out of direct sunlight and try to keep cool. You may also want to avoid strenuous activity, as sweat can make hives worse.

Exercising and sweating

It may be your daily workout that's causing you to break out in hives. Acetylcholine is a chemical produced by the body in response to exercise. For some people, acetylcholine can disrupt skin cells and lead to the release of histamine, which can then irritate the skin and cause a rash. This is known as cholinergic urticaria (via WebMD). Sweating can also trigger a breakout.

There are ways to manage exercise-induced hives. If possible, avoid exercising in hot or humid conditions (via Medical News Today). If you do start to sweat, cool down as quickly as possible by removing any excess clothing and applying cool compresses to your skin. Over-the-counter antihistamines can also help to reduce the symptoms of hives. If you find that your hives are severe or don't respond to self-care measures, talk to your doctor. They may prescribe oral antihistamines or other medications to help control your condition.

Stress and strong emotions

Intense emotional responses can trigger hives, according to Cleveland Clinic. When your body is under stress, it releases chemicals that can cause your skin to break out in hives. For those with chronic hives, or hives that persist for more than six weeks at a time, stress and anger can heat up the body and cause it to release histamine. Histamine is a chemical that helps protect your body against infection, but it can also cause the itching, swelling, and redness associated with hives.

If you're dealing with chronic hives, it's important to find ways to manage your stress. This can help reduce the frequency and severity of your hives outbreaks. There are many different ways to manage stress. What works for one person might not work for another, but to start you can try getting regular exercise, practicing meditation or deep breathing, and spending time with friends and family (via Mayo Clinic). If you're struggling to control your stress levels, talk to your doctor. They can help you find additional resources and support.