What Causes Hives?

Posted on the behalf of Medical Dermatology Specialists on
A dermatologist wearing protective gloves examining skin on hands of a patient suffering from blistering skin disease.

If you find welts on your skin that are red and blotchy, you may have hives. The size of these wheals can vary from as small as a freckle to as large as a dinner plate. It is common for the area to feel irritated, itchy and inflamed.

In most cases, hives will resolve naturally within a day or so, perhaps with the assistance of over-the-counter antihistamines. However, if you keep developing welts on a regular basis, this can become a distressing and painful problem. Hives can develop instantly upon contact with an irritant, or may take around two hours to grow. This can make determining the cause of hives difficult. Medical Dermatology Specialists, Inc. has identified the most common causes of hives.

Reaction to an Allergen

The most common food that causes hives is citrus fruits, such as oranges. Other foods that could cause a reaction are milk, eggs, shellfish and tree nuts. Insect bites and stings, such as from mosquitoes, bedbugs and fleas, create welts that are long-lasting and irritating. Contact with animal fur or dander can create an allergic reaction for some people.

Children may develop hives as a result of an allergic reaction, yet later outgrow the affliction. Adults can suddenly develop symptoms later on. If welts are accompanied by trouble breathing or swallowing, you should seek medical attention immediately, as this could indicate an anaphylactic reaction.

Prolonged Stress

Stress is the second most common cause of hives. It is believed that chemical and hormonal changes in the body when in stressful circumstances make hives more likely to develop. Otherwise, feeling stressed can affect your immune system, making it more likely that you will get sick in general.

For some people, sweating due to nervousness or from exercising leads to hives. It is thought that this is due to sensitivity to an antibody in the sweat glands.

Illness and Infection

Fungal or bacterial infections on the skin may cause welts to grow. However, any illness, even the common cold, may contribute to hives. Medications used to treat infection and illness may also produce an allergic response in the body, making it hard to determine the root cause.

If you are struggling with the pain and discomfort of persistent hives, contact Medical Dermatology Specialists, Inc. We will work with you to develop an advanced and personalized treatment plan. Contact our Atlanta offices today for an appointment.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Jamie Weisman, Medical Dermatology Specialists, Inc.

Medical Dermatology Specialists, Inc.
5730 Glenridge Dr, Suite T-100
Atlanta, GA 30328
(404) 939-9220

Monday – Thursday 7:30 AM – 5:00 PM