Living With Stress Related Hives

Modern day stress can be overwhelming to the mind and body.
Modern day stress can be overwhelming to the mind and body. | Source
Hives are not contagious but can be very uncomfortable.
Hives are not contagious but can be very uncomfortable. | Source

Hives are a skin disorder which appear as raised patches of red skin that can cover small to large areas of the body. They are not contagious but are extremely itchy and not attractive in appearance. Hives are the result of your body reacting to an allergen. Every person has different reactions to allergens; therefore, the cause of hives are unique to each person.

When your body comes into contact with something it does not agree with, it releases histamines into the bloodstream.Your body then sends out a warning signal, in the form of hives, to let you know something is not right. For most, this is a most annoying message.

I have suffered from hives throughout my life as a response to sulfur based medication, but three years ago that changed. I developed a severe case of hives without taking any new medicine. Plus, the whelps did not go away after a few days of taking antihistamines. I knew immediately this was a different case with an unknown cause.

Gardening is an activity that relieves stress and cultivates nature at the same time.
Gardening is an activity that relieves stress and cultivates nature at the same time. | Source
Looking at beautiful images raises the serotonin levels in the brain.
Looking at beautiful images raises the serotonin levels in the brain. | Source

Searching for Help

I visited my family doctor who put me on a steroid pack and antihistamines. At first the medicine slowed the spreading, but once I finished taking the drugs, the hives continued to grow. I was referred to an allergist. I had never visited one, and after four weeks of suffering, I was ready to try anything.

The allergist immediately placed me on another steroid pack and cortisone cream. By this time, the whelps were every place on my body except my face and back. Each night I bathed in an oatmeal bath product then lathered down in the prescription cream. Another two weeks passed, and my problem had not improved. It was time, according to the allergist, to start the tests.

I took every test the allergist could give. I had tested negative to over 500 known allergens. He sat down across from the examination table and just stared at me. I don’t think anyone had ever passed the 500 test with such flying colors as I did. The next step was to test for autoimmune disorders; tests that were not covered with my insurance. I did not like this option.

He asked me if I had been under a lot of unusual stress lately. Indeed, I had. Where would he like me to start? In a four year period, I had lost my dad, and both brothers (43 and 48 years old). I was now the sole caretaker to my elderly mother. I had gone through a cancer scare myself, then a hysterectomy. My job at a nonprofit was in jeopardy of being dissolved. Oh, and I’m sure he did not want me to go into the severely disturbed foster children that we had taken into our home.

The poor guy looked shell shocked. He took a deep breath and informed me that I had stress related hives. Well, in my opinion, that made a lot of sense. He said since I was in reasonably good health, the expensive tests were not needed. I agreed.

Stress hives arise because of chronic stress or tension. Yes, I had years of both and I guess my body could not hold it all in anymore. The good doctor told me the hives would go away once the pressure is removed. Sure, that’s an easy task.

He told me that I had to get my anxiety under control if I did not want to follow my kin into the grave sooner than later. Stress hives are a sign of too much inflammation in the body. Inflammation can cause heart attacks and strokes among other illnesses. It is also a sign of a weak immune system, which I already knew I had. Since the beginning of what I call “the dark years,” I had suffered a couple of bouts of pneumonia, several cases of bronchitis, and more than a few stress fractures. I would not relive my 30s if someone paid me.

I had to take the doctor’s orders to heart; I did my best to remain calm, relaxed, and experience joy again. After nine weeks, my grief was finally relieved. My husband and I have not taken in any more children, and I have been able to concentrate on myself a lot more.

Take Care of Yourself

I have tried to live my life in a more careful manner when dealing with stress. I have started to have fun again and that is a big accomplishment. I watch funny movies, quilt for a good cause, and garden for wildlife.

Laughing is really a great activity to reduce stress. I recently reconnected with an old friend and we talk and laugh for hours. Above all, take great care of yourself. Rest when you need to, laugh every day, and tell the people in your life you love them while they're here.

About the Author

Catherine Dean is a freelance writer, gardener, quilter, and blogger. Her professional background includes nonprofit program development, grant writing, and volunteer management. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications from Georgia College & State University.

Her blog, Sowing A Simple Harvest, chronicles a modern couple trying to live a simplistic, sustainable life. To explore Catherine's professional credentials, visit her website. She can also be followed on Google+.

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Comments 9 comments

Joseph Dean profile image

Joseph Dean 4 years ago from Macon, Georgia

I too have suffered from hives over the years and I've never been provided with a definite answer as to why. My VA allergist provided me with several injections and medication to use when the hives attack. I do receive relief with the injections and medications, but I'd love to know why I get the hives. Not only do the hives itch, but they honestly make me feel as if I'm out of control which tends to make me overreact. This overreaction makes it very difficult for those around me to tolerate me. During the "overreaction" I tend to strip all my clothing off, scratch my skin till the areas are bloody scrapes and then I'm in the shower just trying to calm down. It is not pleasant, but I've been fortunate that I've had no attacks thus far in 2012.


denisemai profile image

denisemai 4 years ago from Idaho

I love that you use laughter to relieve stress. You have certainly had more than your fair share of stress. I get hives daily from allergies but not too severely so over the counter meds work. In college, when dating my husband, his psycho ex girlfriend stalked me and I broke out in severe hives over my entire body from stress. It's amazing how your mind can physically affect your body. I'm happy you've learned to cope with the stress.


mvillecat profile image

mvillecat 4 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia Author

Oh, I know she did cause you a great deal of stress. I had a friend who was stalked by a police officer. That is a terrible position to be in. Yes, the mind is so very powerful and this shows that it does indeed control the entire body. Thanks for sharing your story.


milleramanda53 profile image

milleramanda53 4 years ago from Florida

This is an awesome article I just found out that I now suffer for the same thing last week and come to find out the doctors have been getting it wrong for the last 6 years... I am very grateful for this Hub it lets me know I'm not alone... :)


mvillecat profile image

mvillecat 4 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia Author

Well, I'm not glad that you have them but I am glad you found my hub and now know you are not alone! I had an outbreak a few weeks back myself due to unexpected events. It is a warning sign that your body is sending. Plus, many doctors just don't know how to handle it. Thanks for commenting!


Peanutritious profile image

Peanutritious 4 years ago from Cheshire, UK

I'm so glad I read this. I had stress related hives and had huge welts all over my body. I didn't know what the hell it was at first. The doctor said it was 'urticaria'. I was going through the most stressful time of my life which explains what caused it. It flares up when i'm feeling low or don't look after myself properly. If I drink too much alcohol, it comes back. Thanks for this info, it was really helpful.


mvillecat profile image

mvillecat 4 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia Author

I am so glad it helped!


Pgraynp 3 years ago

Your hub is very inciteful, thanks!! I have researched for over a year thinking I had allergies to everything under the sun including water. Showering is the absolute worst!!!! I could rip my skin off the itch is so bad. Never considered stress until today. I lost my dad 2 years ago, assist in the care of my elderly mother , changed jobs twice ,went back to grad school and carry 9 credits a semester and work 3 jobs. Guess I needed a brick to fall on my head to see that I am over stretched. Thanks for all the posts !!!


mvillecat profile image

mvillecat 3 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia Author

You have a right to be stressed, wow! Indeed your life experiences have been tremendously stressful. When I wrote this hub, it was my hope to help someone else. I still suffer from them from time to time...guess I will for the rest of my life, but, at least I know what is causing them and can try to handle it. Thanks for commenting. I hope you get better and your life slows down!

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