7 Reasons Why You Might Be Breaking Out in Hives

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Hives are confusing AF: The oddly-shaped reddish spots can disappear and
reappear faster than an ex-BF. As it turns out, these transient little
buggers are actually quite common—they affect about 20 percent of people
at some point, says Whitney Bowe, M.D., a New York-based dermatologist.
So, there’s a decent chance you may experience hives in your lifetime
(yay!).

7 Reasons Why You Might Be Breaking Out in Hives

 

Although the cause is sometimes obvious (if you’re allergic to
peanuts and you accidentally eat one, the welts may appear almost
immediately), oftentimes it can be difficult to figure out why, exactly,
you have hives. The good news is that, for the most part, they don’t
last more than 24 hours and are easily treated with antihistamines,
according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. 

 

Here are a few reasons why you might find yourself covered in splotches:

 

1. You Take Certain Medications
Non-steroidal
anti-inflammatories (like aspirin and and ibuprofen), opioids (like
morphine and oxycodone), and antibiotics (like penicillin), can all make
you break out in hives, says Bruce Brod, M.D., clinical professor of
dermatology at the Perleman School of Medicine at the University of
Pennsylvania. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and
Immunology, hives will usually develop within an hour of popping the
pill.  

 

2. You’re Stressed
Another reason to take a deep
breath: Intense emotions can prompt hives. That’s because stress causes
your immune system to falter, making you more susceptible to skin
issues. Typically, stress hives are short-lived (i.e. they last less
than a day) though, says Brod.

 

3. You Got Really Sweaty
According to the World
Allergy Organization, heat-induced hives (which can be caused by
exercise, hot showers, sweating, and anxiety), generally start on the
neck and upper chest and spread to the face, back, and extremities. If
this happens to you regularly, Bowe suggests consulting your doc, who
can put you on an antihistamine regimen.

 

4. You Came Into Contact with an Allergen in the Environment
Summertime
and the livin’ is itchy. Environmental factors that can spark an
outbreak include sunlight, heat, cold, grass, pollen, and dust mites,
says Lauren Ploch, M.D., a dermatologist in Augusta, Georgia. 

 

5. You’re Wearing Too-Tight Clothes
“Some people will
develop hives in areas where there is more pressure on the skin, such
as on the bottom of their feet and underneath tightly-fitting clothing
or underwear,” says Brod. He recommends resisting the urge to
scratch—and wearing loose-fitting clothing. (Leave those skinny jeans at
home!)

 

6. You Have an Autoimmune Disease

If
you still have hives after an extended period of time (a month or
more), an autoimmune disease may be to blame. “Lupus or thyroid disease
can cause hives,” says Ploch, who adds that type 1 diabetes, Sjogren’s
syndrome, and celiac disease could also be to blame. Attributing hives
to an autoimmune disease is often a process of elimination, though, she
says, so it’s important to check in with your doctor. 

 

7. You Ate—or Drank—Something Funky
We know it’s a
total buzz kill, but alcohol and some foods can cause hives. “We see a
lot of allergic reactions from food and food additives, which is where
things can get confusing because it’s not necessarily the food itself,”
says Ploch. Common culprits include shellfish, eggs, and nuts, while
Ploch notes that azo food dyes in candy (red, yellow, and orange colors)
and the sulfites in wine and deli meat can cause hives, too. If hives
are issue for you, it’s important to take a careful history of what you
eat so that you can avoid those triggers in the future, says Ploch.

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