Hives, medically known as “acute urticaria” and “cholinergic urticaria,” are usually triggered by an allergic reaction that produces an aggravated histamine response. When a person has a skin reaction resulting in hives, raised patches of red, itchy skin can appear. These patches usually last no longer than six to 12 hours. Antihistamines can be used to counteract the effect of hives in adults and children.
You may already be familiar with the most common causes of hives, including food allergies and the side effects of some medications. However, if you have hives and can’t identify a likely culprit, there are a few unusual suspects that you might find surprising.
1. The Smell of Fresh Cooking from the Kitchen
If you are highly allergic to shellfish, and that’s what’s on the menu, you may want to avoid the steam coming from the kitchen. The histamine response brought on by food allergies can cause a severe allergic reaction that ranges from mild to life-threatening. Certain foods are more likely to cause problems than others. Peanuts, eggs, shellfish, and nuts are the most common food-related causes of severe hives in adults and children.
Simply handling shellfish or breathing the steam from a kitchen where the seafood is being boiled can cause a reaction in people with severe seafood allergies. If you have a severe shellfish allergy, always be careful to avoid the areas where the preparation and cooking of shellfish is taking place.
2. Kissing Could Be the Culprit
Extreme sensitivity to certain prescription medications is one of the most prevalent causes of hives. If your partner is allergic to an oral medication you are taking, kissing them after ingesting the medication can induce a severe reaction. Penicillin and sulfa drugs are among the most common pharmaceutical triggers.
To avoid causing an allergic reaction by kissing, dermatologists recommend that the non-allergic partner brush their teeth, rinse their mouth, and avoid anything that their partner is allergic to for 16 to 24 hours.
3. Being a Couch Potato Might Protect You
For individuals with the immune disorder “cholinergic urticaria,” a hypersensitivity to heat brought on by exercise can be one of the most common causes of hives. Jumping in the shower right after an intense exercise session could make matters worse, since people with this chronic condition are also susceptible to hives brought on by hot showers. If you suffer from hives brought on by intense heat or sweating, a cool shower or an air-conditioned room may help alleviate your symptoms.
If you have experienced a skin reaction that you think may be related to hives, your dermatologist may be able to help you determine the root cause of your discomfort and recommend a skin solution that includes both management and prevention.