Hives are also called urticaria and affects about twenty percent of people. There are several triggers to hives which make the diagnosis hard with the vast majority of cases falling into idiopathic urticaria (unknown cause of hives). 

Depending on frequency or severity of the itch that accompanies hives it can not only be debilitating but often causes added emotional stress for those who suffer from chronic hives. 

At Nielsen Clinic (Calgary), we help develop a treatment plan specific to your current health and skin care needs. While finding an exact cause for hives can be hard, not all hope is lost as we can help our patients get to the root cause of their skin problems. 

Below are sections offering information for common questions as well as various elements of hives. 

+ What is Hives (Urticaria)?

Hives (urticaria) usually starts as an itchy patch of the skin that turns into raised, swollen red welts.

Hives can appear anywhere on your body and can even change shape, appearing in new spots as well as appearing and disappearing over short periods of time.

There are three types of hives. The first is called acute hives (short-lived), the second chronic hives (long-term) and the third physical urticaria (usually caused by heat, cold or pressure). However, the intensity and frequency of the itch that accompanies the hives varies from individual to individual.

+ What causes Hives?

Depending on the type of hives you have the diagnosis can be somewhat simple or hard to determine.

Acute Hives
The most common triggers for acute hives are the following:
Foods (most commonly peanuts, eggs, nuts, and shellfish)
Prescription or over counter medications
Bites or stings from insects
Infections (bacterial & viral)
Pet dander
Physical stimulation such as cold, heat, exercise, sun exposure and pressure.

Chronic Hives
Finding the cause of chronic hives can be hard to identify in many cases. However, a growing amount of research has shown that hives can arise from other ailments or maybe missed due it being subclinical (not detectable due to limitations in testing or sensitivity of the tests).

Autoimmune (Thyroid)
Half of individuals who suffer from chronic hives often have thyroid problems. Those who have elevated thyroid stimulating hormone (elevated TSH), as well as thyroid antibodies, can trigger hives.

Bacterial Infection
Hives can come from bacterial infections as the bodies immune system reacts to the bacterial antigens. These bacterial antigens are released into your blood from time to time resulting in the development of hives.

There are no diagnostic tests for this, but it is usually proven once treatment has eradicated the subclinical infection.

Bladder Infection
Similar to bacterial infections, there has been increasing data that women who may suffer from chronic hives can present with subclinical bladder infections.

Emotional Stress
High levels of stress can cause the release of a chemical which results in cholinergic stimuli.

Cholinergic stimuli occurs when your body's nervous system receives a chemical signal and releases acetylcholine (a chemical that stimulates the nerves) resulting in the release of histamine which can trigger your hives.

Hormonal Imbalance (Estrogen, Thyroid)
Hormonal imbalances have also been correlated with the development of hives.

Women are two times more likely to suffer from hives than men. Hormonal changes such as menstrual cycle, pregnancy, menopause, birth control and hormonal replacement therapy may result in the development of hives.

Liver / Gallbladder
Hepatitis and gallbladder problems have been known to cause chronic hives. If you are negative for hepatitis, a full workup of your gallbladder may show that your gallbladder requires treatment to help restore its normal function.

Parasites (gastrointestinal)
In rare cases, parasites that live inside the digestive tract may result in periodic hive episodes.

A bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is commonly found in the stomach and may result in the development of hives. Fortunately, treating H. pylori usually clears up the problem with hives.

Temperature Sensitivity
Hot and cold stimulation can also trigger hives.

Viral Infections
Viruses can cause hives. The most common infection is the mononucleosis virus.

+ What are symptoms of Hives?

Hives appear as red or skin-colored welts (wheals), which can appear anywhere on the body. The size of hives can vary in size, shape and can suddenly appear and fade away. Some individual with hives may experience severe itching.

+ Self-care & Prevention - Hives

Take a cool bath.
Remove contact with triggers (allergens).

+ Hives Treatment - How We Can Help

Step 1 - Listen and understand your concerns: Listen to your health concerns, symptoms, review your health history and check your hormones.

Step 2 - Start your treatment plan to address your main areas of concern: Start your initial treatment plan to address hive symptoms you are struggling with.

Step 3 - Treating your cause: Tailor your treatment to address underlying infection and/or immune and hormonal dysfunction to help you recover from hives.


Natural Hives (Urticaria) Treatment - NIELSEN CLINIC 3R's (Remove, Restore & Recover)



Remove: Inflammation and itching by helping reduce the immune system's over response as well as reducing the severity and frequency of itching episodes. 


Hives-Restoring Normal

Restore: Restore the skin's normal function by addressing underlying physical and emotional stressors. 



Recover: Help maintain normal skin function by rejuvenating stress hormones and improving liver detoxification.