Hives can seem to appear out of nowhere. These red, itchy bumps and welts can show up on any part of the body and may even disappear within just a few hours. If they keep cropping up, it’s a good idea to get an evaluation.
In some cases, there’s no apparent cause; other times, doctors can pinpoint the underlying issue. The team at Rheumatology and Allergy Institute of Connecticut in Manchester, Connecticut, is in an excellent position to help you get to the bottom of ongoing issues with hives.
Our allergy and immunology specialist, Dr. Reinhard Kage, routinely evaluates and helps patients manage recurrent hives. A variety of factors, ranging from allergic reactions to stress, can trigger chronic hives. Here, we explore some of the most common causes of chronic hives and what you can do about them.
1. Undiagnosed allergies
One of the most common reasons behind hives is an allergic reaction. When your body comes into contact with an allergen, such as pet dander, pollen, or certain foods, it can trigger the release of histamines, which can cause hives to develop.
To identify allergens that may be causing your hives, you may need to undergo allergy testing. This can involve skin tests or blood tests.
During a skin test, a small amount of a suspected allergen is placed on your skin, and then your provider gently pricks or scratches your skin. If you're allergic to the substance, you'll develop a raised bump at the site of the test.
With a blood test, a lab measures the amount of immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies in your blood, which can indicate an allergic response to a specific allergen.
Once diagnosed, limiting your exposure to the allergen goes a long way in managing hives.
2. Chronic stress
Stress can also trigger hives in some people. When you're under stress, your body releases cortisol and other stress hormones, which can cause your immune system to overreact and produce hives.
To reduce stress levels, try practicing relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises. You may also want to consider counseling or therapy to address the underlying causes of stress in your life.
Certain medications can cause hives as a side effect. Common culprits include antibiotics, painkillers, and anti-inflammatory drugs. If you suspect that a medication is causing your hives, talk to your doctor about switching to a different medication or adjusting your dosage.
4. Vitamin D deficiency
Another potential cause of hives is vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D plays an important role in regulating immune system function, and low levels of vitamin D have been associated with an increased risk of allergies and autoimmune disorders.
One study found that individuals with chronic hives were more likely to have vitamin D deficiency compared to individuals without hives. Additionally, supplementation with vitamin D was found to significantly improve symptoms of chronic hives in these individuals.
Help for chronic hives
Hives can be frustrating and uncomfortable, but you can take steps to identify the underlying causes and reduce your risk of getting them in the future. By identifying allergens, reducing stress levels, avoiding trigger foods and medications, and taking precautions to avoid insect bites and stings, you can minimize your risk of developing hives.
If you continue to experience hives despite making lifestyle changes, take the next step and get an evaluation. Our team can help to determine what underlying issue is causing your symptoms. Even if there’s no apparent cause, Dr. Kage can help you manage chronic hives, improve your symptoms, and feel better.
Don’t put off getting help for chronic hives. Give us a call or make an appointment request online to set up an evaluation for chronic hives with Dr. Kage at Rheumatology and Allergy Institute of Connecticut. Relief is in sight!