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Can Hives Be a Sign of Something Serious?

When a hives outbreak occurs, the first thing we want to know is how to get rid of it. The next questions you have might be about what it’s from and whether it’s signaling something serious. In any case, a hives breakout is a sign that your body is being irritated.

What to Know About Hives

What Causes Hives?

A breakout of itchy, red patches of low bumps on your skin is usually an allergic reaction. The chemical histamine is released as an immune response to an irritant and can be triggered by a host of sources. Often, it’s a food, a plant, or a bug bite that provokes the inflammation. Sometimes, we can suffer from hives caused by stress. When these bumps are on our skin, it can be an annoyance or embarrassing. In most cases, antihistamine products work as a hives treatment and help to relieve the itching and redness by suppressing the reception of the histamine by the target tissue. When a reaction is prompted by eating something, medical attention might be needed if the reaction occurs in someone’s tongue or throat, where swelled tissue can block the airway and constrain the breath.

Is It Serious?

Seeking the trigger of the hives might lead you to find out something about your skin that you didn’t know already. Discovering a new allergy is a possibility, or that your skin is more sensitive than you thought to certain products or ingredients, but hives may accompany more serious, internal skin conditions.


Hives aren’t caused by eczema per se, but they often accompany it as a reaction to the chronic disease. A mild eczema outbreak can easily be mistaken for hives, so if you haven’t experienced an outbreak before, talk to your doctor or dermatologist if the irritation persists for several weeks. It might be a reaction to an allergen you’re newly exposed to, or it may be a sign of eczema. The causes of eczema aren’t known, but it’s usually associated with a weakened immune system.

Celiac Disease

As a reaction to allergens, hives can accompany celiac disease, a condition where an individual is allergic to the gluten protein in wheat and other grains. The gastrointestinal system is exposed to what we ingest, and since the digestive system distributes nutrients throughout the body, it can deliver the allergen to our skin tissue and result in surface-level irritation in addition to gastrointestinal discomfort. Like many allergic reactions, avoiding the irritant is the most effective way to avoid a breakout.

Autoimmune Diseases

Conditions like thyroid disease, Lupus, and other autoimmune diseases occur when the body’s immune system wrongfully targets regular cells in the body as dangerous. Hives aren’t always present but can show up from time to time if histamine is released unnecessarily. Autoimmune diseases are frustrating for those who bear them, and usually the cause of the overactive immune response is unknown. Hives that show without any allergic instigation might be a sign of a deeper, more serious problem and should be checked out by your doctor or dermatologist if they are persistent or recurrent.

Talk to Your Dermatologist About Your Hives

Managing our skin’s health is a lifelong activity, but sometimes we can’t control what we interact with. If you’ve experienced hives but you’re not sure of the cause, schedule a consultation with one of our dermatologists today to learn more about your skin.

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