Top 11 causes for hives on skin

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11 Top Causes for Hives on your Skin 

Hives are showing up on your skin and you don’t know why, and this may be your first time having them or it’s something you have been dealing with for some time.

I have researched countless hours to find the answers on all things hives. 

We will cover causes, symptoms, treatment/management options, and what I have used firsthand to treat hives with excellent results.


What are Hives? 

My definition of hives… “Itchy bumps”. 

Merriam-Webster defines hives as “An allergic disorder marked by raised edematous patches of skin or mucous membrane and usually intense itching and caused by contact with a specific precipitating factor (such as a food, drug, or inhalant) either externally or internally.”

Other Common Names for Hives

Hives are also called urticaria (pronounced ur·​ti·​car·​a) which is commonly mixed in with other terms like plaques, wheals, welts, or bumps.

For this article, I am going to try and stick with the term hive(s). 

You may have a sensitivity to a chemical, industrial, or environmental hazard. If so, take yourself away from what is causing your irritation if at all possible.

Symptoms of Hives

I have had allergy-related symptoms of hives on my arms, legs, and trunk. These hives consisted of raised pink swollen areas, which were extremely itchy! 

My hive investigation has come up with this top list of symptoms for hives on the skin. 


  • Itchy and/or swollen welts
    • Depending on reaction can be small or large in size
    •  Can be red or skin-colored
  •  Painful swelling around sensitive areas of the face like the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth
  • Symptoms can appear suddenly
  • Burning sensation


Causes of Hives on Skin 

The most common cause of hives is the trigger of an allergic reaction. 

If you have a known allergy to things like pet dander, pollen, or medications, your allergic response may show in the form of hives on your skin. 

Hives can be caused by a broad range of other situations and exposures besides allergies. 


Top 11 causes for hives on skin infographic visual

List of 11 Common Causes For Hives On The Skin

  1. Allergies
  2. Medications
  3. Excessive scratching
  4. Exposure to intense heat or cold
  5. Stress
  6. Exercise
  7. Use of alcohol
  8. Foods
  9. Illness or infection
  10. Sun exposure
  11. Underlying medical conditions or other unknown causes

Keep in mind that although this list is not all-inclusive.

I have read countless stories of individuals who have hives on their skin, and they have not discovered any triggers or reasons for the hives (unknown causes).


Duration of Hives Varies

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), informs us that hives typically go away in 24 hours or less, but as the original hives disappear new ones may appear.

The appearance and disappearance of hives can last about 6 weeks.

Hives that last more than 6 weeks are considered chronic hives.


You Are At Risk For Hives; Hives Are Not Biased

Who can get hives? Anyone!

As we have learned, there are so many causes for hives that anyone could be affected at some point in their life.


Location of Hives on Your Skin (and beyond)

Here is a fun fact! You can get hives just about anywhere on your body to include inside your mouth.

The most common areas to experience hives are on your arms, legs, and trunk/abdomen.

Hives Can Be Erratic, Irregular, and Inconsistent

The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) states that hives can change shape, move around, disappear and reappear over short periods of time.

In short, yes they can move around.

Hives Treatment and Management Options

  • Hives can go away on their own without the need for treatments
  • Clean the area with soap and water (typically used with physical contact with trigger)
  • Avoid triggers that you know result in hives
  • Use a cold compress on the hives to keep the skin cool and reduce inflammation
  • Oatmeal Bath
  • Taking antihistamines such as:
    • Benadryl
    • Claritin
    • Zyrtec
    • Alavert
    • Allegra
    • Xyzal

I currently take Zyrtec, and I have been using this antihistamine for many years.

I have found this to be the most beneficial antihistamine against my allergy symptoms.

If I need something a little more powerful I use Benadryl.

I get fast results and only need to take half a dose, if I take the full dose I tend to get sleepy.

Benadryl comes in liquid, chewable, and tablet form. Find what works for you.

Here is the exact product I use, there are also generic versions available as well.

Topical creams can aid in managing hives, like Benadryl anti-itch gel. My allergist uses this after my allergy shots every week and I have experienced immediate itch relief.

I tend to get hives after working outdoors, so I have some of this gel on hand at all times.

My Hives On My Arm After Mowing The Lawn

Here is a picture of my arm after mowing the lawn, this is the exact type of situation where I use the gel-cream!

Hives on my arm allergy preventions skin

Luckily the cream is inexpensive and of course, Amazon has just about everything, you can find the cheapest price by clicking the picture below.

It is also useful for stings, burns, anti-itch, insect bites, poison ivy, and sunburn.

You really can’t go wrong with having this on hand.

The best Treatments That Have Worked For Me

The treatment options that I have had the best results with are:

Sometimes these home care treatments don’t do the trick, or your symptoms evolve or get worse.

You can never be too cautious when it comes to your health, always consult with a medical professional.


How can you be sure you have hives?

A trip to a dermatologist will be the best way to make the diagnosis of hives.

Usually, you will have to see your primary physician and get a referral to a dermatologist.

Keep in mind that your physician may initially treat at his or her level of care before referring to the specialist.

After diagnosis comes the tricky part for the medical professionals, finding why you have the hives.

My hives were always allergy-related so I wasn’t referred to the dermatologist.

Due to my severe environmental allergies, I was referred to an allergist for further evaluation instead.


Hives can be a complicated condition as they can come and go. I wanted to share with you what I have found from my research and of course, give you my personal experience of my hive treatment options.

Additionally, I have compiled the Top-Rated Hives Treatments on Amazon to assist with your hive treatment decisions.

I hope you have found this information beneficial and I look forward to hearing your triggers and treatment options. Is there a treatment that has worked well for you?

Next, check out the 26 Pictures of Hives and better understand what urticaria (hives) look like.