unhive me
May 1, 2016 7:39 PM   Subscribe

After 20 something years of never getting hives, I've now had three temporary attacks of hives in the past three or four months. Could you help me work out what is going on? Many details inside.

- As long as I can remember, I've always gotten whatever cold is going around. I've also had mono three times (confirmed by doctors). The only times I remember not getting sick all the time was when I was spending a lot of time alone working on my thesis.

- I cannot recall ever getting hives before this year, in all my 27 years.

- The first bout of hives was in mid-February. I was getting over a cold/sinus infection. It was localised to just my ankles and when I put some aloe vera gel on it, the swelling/itchiness/etc reduced quite quickly.

- Second bout would have been in March or April. Was also quite localised to my ankles. Aloe vera helped. I might have also been getting over a cold, because I remember that I had a couple of hot toddies the night before and wondered whether I might be having some kind of reaction to rum (I have since ruled this out).

-Third bout started today. I woke up with hives covering most of my lower legs. I wondered whether it could be due to having dry skin and possibly shaving rash (I shaved my legs last night). I had a shower and moisturised and it helped slightly. But I am now getting some hives on my arm.

Things that are constant:

- One of my cats does sleep in my bed with me.

- The hives seem to occur when I've just shaved my legs within a couple of days

- The hives seem to occur when I have maybe been lax in changing my sheets (I am for every two weeks at most, but I might have waited longer this time).

Things that have changed in the past several months:

- I started a new job in November in an office of about 150 - 200 people. There are a lot of colds that go around. I've also been missing exposure to sunlight, and am probably not eating the best (a lot of frozen meals for lunch).

- I love my job, but find it very stressful sometimes.

- I started taking the pill (Yasmin) in around October.

I am about to head to the doctor (albeit not a very good one), so I will be asking for a medical opinion.

In case it matters, I tested negative for all STIs (including HIV) last year. I have had a couple of new partners since then, but am fastidious about condom use. I don't think that any condoms have broken or anything. But I have health anxiety about HIV, so I am very paranoid about it.
posted by kinddieserzeit to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Hives were the reason that I learned the fancy medical term "idiopathic," which means "honestly, we have no idea why that's happening." It could be stress, or something to do with your shaving cream or razor, or a new allergy to fabric softener or detergent, or any one of a number of things. You could try switching out shaving cream, razors, detergents, etc. and see if that works, but I wouldn't freak out over it too much. Have you tried an antihistamine?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:44 PM on May 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

Are the hives showing up at the same time of the month?

The only time I've ever had hives was an allergic reaction to wellbutrin that didn't kick in until I'd been on ot about six weeks. I am wondering if there's something in Yasmin that's bothering you but only during a few days out of the month.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 7:51 PM on May 1, 2016

You have cats, and this happens on your ankles? Do you have carpet?

I'm thinking you should check for fleas.
posted by yesster at 8:06 PM on May 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Are you sure it's hives and not eczema? I almost always develop eczema on my thighs when I travel, and it looks similar to hives (that is, it's not visibly dry or cracked like eczema can be). A week to ten days of 1% hydrocortisone cream plus religious use of a moisturizer (recommendations here) usually clears it up.
posted by neushoorn at 9:22 PM on May 1, 2016

Response by poster: Just got back from the doctor.

I have confirmed that they are hives. Doctor definitely didn't think they were insect bites of any kind.

He said there are two options:
- it's an allergic reaction to something that I was exposed to before the symptoms started (not something I take daily like the pill, or something I am around daily like my cats)


- it's a chronic thing that might flare up occasionally. My body is reacting as if it has been exposed to something allergenic, without actually having been exposed to anything.

He recommended that I take Telfast to deal with the symptoms.

The initial onset was after a long and bad sinus infection so insert random thought about immune system here.

This is true for me too. The first time this happened when I was getting over a 4 week long cold/sinus infection.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 9:31 PM on May 1, 2016

Have you by chance, taken any antibiotics? I've gotten really bad hives before and it turned out I am allergic to sulfa drugs. I also get bad allergic reactions to sulfate so, which are in some red wines and in dried fruits.
posted by gt2 at 10:01 PM on May 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

Hi, I have also been periodically getting hives since starting a new job. Previously, I only had one occurrence of hives, and it was a reaction to an antibiotic.

The first (and most severe) onset after starting the new job required a trip to the doctor and a cortisone shot to calm things down. The doctor said it could have been triggered by anything. I wondered if it was something in my new work environment, but after a few more incidences which I've managed by taking non-prescription antihistamines, I think I have narrowed it down to an allergy to some sort of spice. So now I will be keeping careful records of what I ate when I next get hives.
posted by needled at 6:02 AM on May 2, 2016

I have chronic urticaria (which means: long-lasting hives) and while no one can figure out the EXACT cause, it is definitely auto-immune related (b/c immuno-suppressants keep the hives away). If anti-histimines don't help, or if the hives come back again, I would recommend trying to see a specialist in allergy/immunology to talk to an expert and see what's going on.
posted by leesh at 6:22 AM on May 2, 2016

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