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Causes of Hives

Updated on August 12, 2016

Hives are recognized as itchy bumps that appear on the skin. They can be caused by a number of things including food, medicine, diseases, and allergies. Despite there being a handful of potential causes for hives, the most common cause is simply unknown- for a majority of hive suffers, hives appear randomly and for no apparent reason.

Hives are categorized into different groups by health care professionals.

  • Idiopathic: The hives that just happen
  • Nonimmunological: Hives that are formed when exposure to a substance causes the release of histamines without involving the rest of the immune system
  • Immunological: Hives that are caused by changes within the immune system.

Hives from Medication

Hives can occur from medications, and if they are going to make themselves known, they will do so within the first 36 hours after the medication has been introduced into the body. Jut because hives don't appear within the 36 hour time period doesn't mean that they won't- hives can show up after taking a medication for months.

Hives from Disease

Despite the fact that most causes of hives are never figured out, when when can be determined, it's often due to an infection like upper respiratory infections. Upper respiratory infections cause approximately 40% of hives.

However, hives can also be cause by serious diseases. Hives from diseases are rare, but are often times much more irritating.

Hives from Food

Food allergies, though often blamed for hives, are most likely not the cause of the itchy rash. Food allergy is pretty rare, and it is thought that the hives are caused by additives within the foods we eat, and not the foods themselves.

Latex isn't often associated with food, but when it comes to hives it should be- sensitivity to latex can cause contact dermatitis (delayed hypersensitivity reaction). Some chemicals found in foods are similar enough to those found in latex, that when ingested, they can cause irritation.

These food additives include:

  • Salicylates
  • Benzoates
  • Fish albumin
  • Citric Acid
  • Penicillin
  • Sulfites
  • Egg
  • Yeast
  • Tatrazine (dye)

Rheumatic Fever
Urinary Tract (UTI)
Dermatitis Herpetiformis
Polycythemia Vera
Hepatitis B
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
Intestinal Worms
Thyroid Disease
Diseases and Infections That Cause Hives


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    • louiseelcross profile image

      Louise Elcross 17 months ago from UK

      I have lupus and get hives quite badly. Last year I went on holiday and was in sun which caused hives on my chest and back. By the time I got home I was scabby and weeping where I had been scratching the hives and lesions that were very itchy. Doctor said that I had an infection from scratching my skin off. Latex can also set me off with the itch.