Can Stress Cause Hives?

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ask the experts

Does stress cause hives? I've been going through a divorce, and I've had hives off and on for a year. How can I figure out what's causing my hives?

Doctor's response

Hives (urticaria) are raised, red spots on the skin that often itch. Hives are usually indicative of an allergic reaction. Hives are a common reaction in people who have allergies. A number of substances can trigger an outbreak of hives, including foods, medications, pollen, animal dander, or insect bites.

Hives can also develop as a result of sun or cold exposure, infections, excessive perspiration, and emotional stress. The reason why stress seems to precipitate an outbreak of hives in many people is not completely understood but is likely related to the known effects of stress on the immune system. In many cases, the cause of hives in a given individual cannot be identified.

If you aren't certain what is causing your hives and are bothered by the symptoms, talking to your can help you identify potential allergic triggers. He or she can also order blood or skin tests for allergies if necessary.

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care

REFERENCE:

"New-onset urticaria"
UpToDate.com

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Reviewed on 6/15/2017