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Can Stress Cause Hives?


Updated June 02, 2014

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Can Stress Cause Hives?

Stress is a common cause of hives.

Question: Can Stress Cause Hives?
Answer: Absolutely. Hives can certainly be caused or worsened by significant stress in a person’s life. In fact, stress is one of the most common causes of acute hives (symptoms lasting less than 6 weeks), along with infectious causes and allergies. Stress has also been known to worsen chronic hives (symptoms lasting more than 6 weeks), even when the chronic hives are primarily due to another cause.

A study published in 2008 sought to determine the different types of stress that worsened symptoms in people with chronic hives. The study found that 16% of the people studied experienced a stressful event within 1 year before the onset or worsening of their hives.

The most common stressful events that were related to the occurrence of hives included death of a family member, family conflicts, financial problems, sexual dysfunction, illness of a family member, problems in the workplace, and extramarital affairs. Surprisingly, even forms of “good” stress -- getting married or engaged, and going on a vacation – were also associated with hives. The authors propose that the treatment of stress, through relaxation techniques and stress management programs, may be useful for the treatment of hives caused or worsened by stress.

Learn more about the common causes of hives.


Malhotra SK, Mehta V. Role of Stressful Life Events in Induction or Exacerbation of Psoriasis and Chronic Urticaria. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 2008;74(6):594-9.

Wallengren J, Isaksson A. Urticarial Dermatographism: Clinical Features and Response to Psychosocial Stress. Acta Derm Venereol. 2007;87:493-98.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this site is for educational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for personal care by a licensed physician. Please see your physician for diagnosis and treatment of any concerning symptoms or medical condition.

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