Can Stress Cause Hives?

Could Stress Be the Cause of Your Hives?

Stress is a common cause of hives. © ADAM

Can Stress Cause Hives?

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 the 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.

So, if stress is the cause of hives or 'stress hives', then stress relief should be an important part of treating hives.

Methods of stress relief may include taking a much-deserved vacation, starting a hobby as a distraction from stress, and increasing exercise -- all of which may help in the reduction of hives caused by stress. Even if stress relief isn't helpful to reduce hives, treatment with oral antihistamines is likely to be.

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.

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