Chronic hives, Chronic idiopathic urticaria


Hives represent a skin response characterized by itchy welts, also known as wheals. When these welts persist for over six weeks and recur frequently over extended periods, they are referred to as chronic hives. The underlying cause of this condition often remains unclear. 

Typically, the welts begin as itchy patches that transform into swollen welts of varying sizes. These welts emerge and vanish unpredictably as the reaction progresses. 

Chronic hives can lead to significant discomfort, disrupting normal sleep and daily routines. For many individuals, relief is attainable through the use of antiitch medications, such as antihistamines. 


Hives can appear anywhere on your body. They can be as small as a pinprick or bigger than a softball. If you have chronic hives, you might experience: 

  • Groups of red or purple welts (wheals) that can pop up anywhere on your body. 
  • These welts can be big or small and can change shape. They might come and go many times. 
  • Itchiness (pruritus) 
  • Swelling might happen around your eyes, cheeks, or lips, and it could be painful. 
  • Certain things like heat, exercise, or stress could make the hives worse. 
  • These symptoms can last for more than six weeks and keep coming back for months or even years. 

If you have chronic hives, it’s important to note that they generally don’t immediately lead to a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. However, if you experience hives as part of a strong allergic response with symptoms like dizziness, breathing difficulties, and swelling of the tongue, lips, mouth, or throat, it’s crucial to seek emergency medical care promptly. 


Many individuals grappling with chronic hives face an unclear underlying cause. In rare instances, chronic hives can be linked to allergic reactions from medications or certain foods. The appearance of raised welts in hives results from the immune system’s release of chemicals like histamine into the bloodstream. The reasons behind chronic hives’ occurrence and the transition from shortterm to longterm hives often remain elusive. 

The skin’s reactive response can be triggered by various factors, including: 

  • Changes in temperature, whether hot or cold 
  • Sunlight exposure 
  • Vibrations, like those experienced while jogging or using lawnmowers 
  • Pressure applied to the skin, such as from a tight waistband 
  • Underlying medical conditions like thyroid disorders, infections, allergies, and even cancer. 

Approximately 20% of individuals experiencing chronic hives are simultaneously affected by autoimmune disorders, which encompass conditions like celiac disease, dermatomyositis, diabetes, lupus, polymyositis, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease, and vitiligo.