Hives can look very similar to mosquito bites ― and the welts can sometimes join together to form very large patches. Once these bumps disappear, they should not leave any marks or bruising on the skin.
Hives can be triggered by many causes ― these include allergies to food or medications, as well as environmental and physical reactions to heat, cold, and even tight clothing and excessive physical pressure on the skin.
If you have developed hives, think back over the past two to three days to rule out exposure to new foods or medication (including over-the-counter ones) as a cause for this sudden outbreak. Once you have ruled out other causes and you have concluded that you had suffered stress-induced hives, try de-stressing as much as possible.
“Unfortunately, the anxiety associated with having hives sometimes adds to the stress itself. Some patients benefit from mindfulness activities, such as meditation. Swimming, as a form of exercise, is also encouraged.”
Start with a walk outdoors, take a little time for yourself and have a tea break, or delegate some of your tasks, if you can. Unfortunately, the anxiety associated with having hives sometimes adds to the stress itself.
How to manage stress-induced hives
When you develop hives, it’s best to avoid certain medications, such as aspirin and painkillers known as NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), including diclofenac, mefenamic acid and ibuprofen.
Cough mixtures containing codeine can also aggravate the condition. Instead, take antihistamines, which are usually available as over-the-counter medication. These include loratadine, cetirizine, fexofenadine and chlorpheniramine.
Do note that some of these medications can cause drowsiness, so it is best to avoid driving or operating heavy machinery after taking such meds. Do also avoid drinking alcohol when you take antihistamines.
Avoid hot water and wear more loose-fitting, comfortable cotton garments until the rashes start to subside. Applying certain soothing creams and gels, as well as calamine lotion, can offer relief to the skin quickly.
In most cases, the hives will go away within a few days to weeks. See a doctor if simple measures do not work, if a bad swelling around the lips or eyes accompany the hives, or if you are wheezing or have difficulty breathing.
This article first appeared in the May/June 2020 issue of Thomson Medical’s Celebrating Life magazine.
You may also like these stories…