The Connection Between Hashimoto's and Hives & How to Stop it

The Connection Between Hashimoto’s and Hives & How to Stop it

Hives are Common Among Patients with Hashimoto's

There is a big connection between hives and Hashimoto's disease

But what does this actually mean for your body or for your thyroid? 

Is it a sign that something else is wrong in your body? And if so, how do you manage it?

Today we are going to explore the connection between hives and Hashimoto's thyroiditis and talk about what actually causes this condition. 

But first, you should be aware that hives aren't just a problem for people with thyroid disease (though it is very common among those with Hashimoto's). 

We have evidence that chronic hives (the chronic part is important) are associated with autoimmune disease with some studies (1) placing this number as high as 40%. 

Hives sometimes referred to as urticaria, are a swollen and red area that appears on the skin. 

It's usually raised and incredibly itchy and it can sometimes be painful. 

They are also incredibly annoying and can pop up out of nowhere. 

But here's what's important:

Hives are not a problem with your skin, instead, they almost ALWAYS represent a problem with your body in general and typically with your immune system. 

So, in a way, you should think about hives as a warning sign that something is seriously wrong with your body. 

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Hives are an indication of a deeper problem that Must Be Addressed

Let me put this into perspective: 

I remember treating a patient a few years ago who had a problem with chronic hives. 

This person was suffering from hives each and every day for 2 years straight. 

They went to dermatologists, endocrinologists, and even immunologists and were on all sorts of medications but they still couldn't manage their symptoms. 

This person finally came to see me, at the request of their friend, and within about 10 minutes I diagnosed this person with histamine intolerance (2) and gut dysbiosis. 

The treatment? a low histamine diet. 

This person was already taking antihistamines, steroids, steroid creams, acid blockers, and so on so they were willing to do anything to get relief. 

Within a matter of about 2 weeks, this person was already 80% better and by the 2 month mark was almost completely back to normal. 

supplements designed for hashimoto's

And you know what this person said to me when I saw them after 2 months?

They were angry with the other "specialists" that they saw and that they completely missed this diagnosis. 

I don't bring this story up to gloat about my diagnostic ability or anything like that but to help you understand a couple of things. 

#1. Your doctor is probably not aware of the various causes of hives and is probably not the right person to help you manage this problem. 

And #2. hives represent a deeper problem in your body and you should look at them as a symptom and not a disease

Some of the more frequent causes of chronic hives among Hashimoto's patients include: 

  • Food sensitivities - The food that you eat has a profound impact on your immune system both in how it impacts inflammation but also immune function in general. Many people are 'sensitive' (not allergic) to many types of foods. As they consume these foods it triggers an immune response which can cascade down the inflammatory pathway. Long-term sensitivities can lead to big-time problems. 
  • Histamine intolerance - Histamine intolerance can stem from the foods that you eat and is completely different than food sensitivities. In this condition, your body has a difficult time breaking down histamine which leads to an activation of certain immune cells and the symptoms associated with high histamine. 
  • Immune system dysregulation - Hives is often a symptom of immune regulatory problems (3). The immune system is supposed to reserve the histamine response for specific events but if your immune system is hypersensitive then you may start reacting to things you normally wouldn't. This problem results in hives from all sorts of encounters to your skin such as laundry detergent, soap, oils, creams, etc. 
  • Inflammation - Inflammation, especially in the gut, can trigger hives. 
  • Medications - Believe it or not, medications, and even supplements can TRIGGER hives. This is even true of medications that you have been taking for a long period of time. You can suddenly develop hives to these medications due to sensitivities or problems in your immune system. 
  • Exposure to fungal pathogens and mold -  An uncommon cause of hives can be from exposure to fungus or mold (4). If you are living in a mold-infested area then this may be the primary cause of your hives. 

As I mentioned, these areas will probably be overlooked by conventional doctors. 

When someone presents to them with hives they are almost always going to prescribe an antihistamine and/or a steroid cream and call it a day. 

But the reality is that you will need to do some digging to figure out what the problem is. 

How Do You Know if You Have Hives? These Symptoms are Common

How do you know if you have hives?

Most people who experience them know without a doubt that they have them. 

But for those people who may experience rashes and other skin problems, which are common in Hashimoto's, let me share some of the symptoms. 

Hives usually present as:

  • Inflamed, red, raised patches of skin. 
  • You will almost always experience swelling at the area and/or swelling in other areas of your body (lips and face are common). 
  • Pain and itchiness where the inflamed skin is. 
  • Individual hive outbreaks usually last less than 24 hours but may recur in the same location the following day. 
  • Outbreaks can occur anywhere on your skin but frequently occur on the arms and chest area. 
  • Hives may be precipitated by something that touches your skin or aggravates the skin in a specific area. Other times, hives may appear out of nowhere and for no apparent reason. 
  • Hives that occur for longer than 6 weeks are considered to be "chronic" whereas if you only have hives once or twice in a short period of time it's considered "acute". 
  • Chronic hives represent a bigger problem for most people compared to acute hives which can be triggered by things like bug bites or exposure to skin irritants. 
  • Hives can also be associated with nausea, muscle pain, vomiting, and even diarrhea (this depends on the severity of your symptoms).

Depending on your body, and the cause, you may experience any or all of these symptoms. 

But you should be able to easily differentiate hives from something like a rash with the list above. 

Standard Treatments May not Work and Only Address your Symptoms

If you go to your doctor you will receive an array of lotions and potions to try and treat your issue. 

And while many of these medications are ineffective, it's still worth mentioning them and how they work. 

The general way that doctors try to treat hives is by reducing the immune response in the skin. 

This is achieved through a combination of medications, creams, and even steroids (if necessary). 

Common treatments include:

  • Topical steroids - Topical steroids, such as hydrocortisone, are used to try and reduce local inflammation and the immune response. 
  • Oral steroids (not as common) - Sometimes patients are given oral steroids which are FAR more powerful (and potentially harmful to the body) than topical steroid creams. 
  • Antihistamines (sometimes referred to as histamine blockers) - Antihistamines, such as Benadryl, will often be recommended. These can sometimes work but often cause severe drowsiness. 
  • Acid blockers (rarely) - Sometimes doctors will recommend H2 blockers/antagonists which are first-generation acid blockers to treat hives. These medications are NOT the same as acid blockers such as pantoprazole but work through a completely different mechanism. Most acid blockers prescribed today are more like the former as opposed to the latter. 
  • General allergy medication - Doctors will also recommend allergy medication both over the counter and prescription to treat your hives. 

As I mentioned, these medications and therapies can sometimes be effective but they miss the bigger picture. 

How to Manage your Hives Naturally

A more natural, and effective I might add, way to manage hives in Hashimoto's (and in general) is to look deeper than the skin. 

Instead of focusing on what you put on your skin, focus on what is happening INSIDE your body, and WITH your immune system. 

You will almost always find the answer here and finally obtain relief. 

If you suffer from chronic hives then you will want to look at these areas: 

  • Check your thyroid (make sure that you are being treated correctly) - You want to make sure that you check you thoroughly check your thyroid to ensure that it is working properly. If you are taking thyroid medication then this means that your dose is optimized and your thyroid symptoms are completely resolved. This means you will need to get a complete thyroid lab panel including thyroid antibodies, TSH, free T3, free T4, and reverse T3
  • Manage your Hashimoto's naturally - More important than managing your thyroid function is ensuring that you are also paying attention to your immune system as well. Remember, Hashimoto's is BOTH a thyroid condition and an immune condition. If you focus on one at the expense of the other, you are doing a great disservice to your body. 
  • Address your gut - Addressing your gut means cleaning up your diet but it also means reducing inflammation, healing the gut lining, and repopulating your gut with healthy bacteria. Healing the gut is not as easy as taking a probiotic and calling it a day (though that can be helpful) but instead making many changes all at once and doing it consistently over time. For perspective, it takes months and months to heal your gut and sometimes as long as years. 
  • Address your diet - Make sure you pay special attention to your diet and, more specifically, food sensitivities. Once you have some baseline level of inflammation in your body it's easy to develop multiple sensitivities to various types of foods. And this can include healthy foods as well! You can check for these foods using delayed IgG food sensitivity tests. They are not 100% accurate but if you want something to follow then this is your best bet. 
  • Take anti-inflammatory supplements - You should also consider taking supplements which help cool down the immune system and inflammation. Supplements that do this include zinc, vitamin d3, and fish oil
  • Diamine oxidase - Lastly, you may want to consider using an enzyme known as diamine oxidase. Diamine oxidase is an enzyme found in your intestinal tract which helps to break down histamine. Many people with histamine intolerance find that they do not produce enough of this enzyme so supplementing with it may help. 

Don't be afraid to use these therapies in combination with some of the conventional therapies listed above. 

The only therapies that I would stay away from or avoid like the plague are the topical steroids. 

Steroids have a local suppressive effect on the immune system but get absorbed into the skin and can cause problems for your adrenals. 

But over the counter medications like Benadryl are not likely to cause any long term harm and can help alleviate your symptoms in the short term. 

Final Thoughts

The bottom line?

You do not have to live with hives in Hashimoto's forever. There are ways that you can not only reduce your symptoms but completely eliminate them

It starts by taking inventory of your diet and lifestyle and reverse engineering how it may be negatively impacting your immune system. 

From there you can make targeted changes to your diet, eliminate foods you may be sensitive to, take the right supplements, and improve your thyroid function. 

All of these will help reduce the frequency or completely eliminate your hives. 

Now I want to hear from you:

Are you someone suffering from hives and Hashimoto's?

If so were you formally diagnosed or is this something you diagnosed yourself?

Have you been to a doctor? If so, what types of therapies have you tried?

What has worked for you? What hasn't?

Leave your questions or comments below! 

References (Click to Expand)

Why Hashimoto's Causes Hives and What it Means for your Immune System

Dr. Westin Childs

About Dr. Westin Childs

Hey! I'm Westin Childs D.O. (former Osteopathic Physician). I don't practice medicine anymore and instead specialize in helping people like YOU who have thyroid problems, hormone imbalances, and weight loss resistance. I love to write and share what I've learned over the years. I also happen to formulate the best supplements on the market (well, at least in my opinion!) and I'm proud to say that over 45,000+ people have used them over the last 4.5 years. You can read more about my own personal health journey and why I am so passionate about what I do here.

18 thoughts on “The Connection Between Hashimoto’s and Hives & How to Stop it”

  1. Dr Child’s I was so happy to see this info on histamine intolerance causing hives. I had some kind of a flare with itching and in the heat picks like bites feelings on chest back ankles. My scalp itched and burned hair very thin and dry. My skin was ruff and bumpy and worse of all Pain in nearly every joint. About Three weeks before I was in the hospital three times. I though that was the cause. I had my gallbladder removed and they did a cat scan with iodine so I was back in the hospital blood pressure very high very sweating I think I went hyper? 4 days later back in the hospital in worse pain had Colanglist and a stone in liver duct. Lots of antibiotics and drugs. So though that might have caused problem.
    Finally went to the dermatologist for itching. He put me on a steroid for a month. Pain gone ,skin soft, and clear eyes clear scalp better irrigation in my mouth better. Very scared to get off the steroid. Stopped eating sugar and can’t eat much fats so eating fruits for energy. Taking the vitamins you suggested I have had most of my thyroid removed and Hashimotos What can I do next? Help I think your the only Doctor that can fix me❤️

    Reply
  2. Not sure if this falls into the hives catagory, but what about “skin pain” ? My skin literally hurts, and sometimes even the fabric from my clothes bothers me.
    This usually happens during a flare-up, extreme tiredness or if I’m about to get sick.
    Does anyone else have this happen to them? Is there something I could do to lessen the discomfort?

    Reply
  3. I have had couple months episode of hives this past summer and last summer. It seemed to get activated when it was summer and I was out in the sun. Is that possible to be the trigger? I was taking cod liver oil and I was once tested and showed to be sensitive to cod fish so I stopped that .. but took several weeks for it to settle down.

    Reply
  4. I have suffered with hives for over 2 1/2 months and I have seen 2 dermatologists and my primary doctor and I was put on a steroid for 2 weeks and they changed my dosage for my medication. Last night the hives have returned. Very frustrating!

    Reply
    • Hi Susan,

      Steroids are definitely not the answer as they simply temporarily suppress the hives. Look into some of the suggestions in this article for help!

      Reply
  5. Hi my synthroid dosage increased at Christmas time and then I started getting hives and now middle of April still having hives everyday. The doctor has put me on antihistamines which keep them somewhat in check. With covid being so crazy she really doesn’t have time to think about my issue. I do have hypothyroidism but not aware that it is Hashimoto’s but reading the article makes me wonder.

    Reply
    • Hi Joan,

      It would be easy to check! Just grab some antibodies the next time you go get your thyroid checked 🙂

      Reply
  6. I was plastered in hives especially my legs from when I was born, my mum used to sew me into my pyjamas to stop me scratching. I always went to school with up to 30 plasters on my legs where I had scratched them raw. The hives “stopped” in my teens and turned into cystitis which I found out years later from a naturopath is a sign the cause of the hives was untreated and went deeper. The cystitis ruined my life from the age of 16 up until my 40’s. At this point I trained as a natural nutritionist and discovered for myself I had untreated hashimoto’s, probably lifelong (I am now 63). It is sad that I and many other people have to suffer for most of our lives because mainstream medicine are incapable of working this out when we are younger with a fighting chance of dealing with it. Very good article by the way:)

    Reply
    • Hi Sue,

      I’m sorry to hear that it took so long to figure things out but I’m glad you finally did! Thanks for sharing your story 🙂

      Reply
  7. I have a severe chronic case of psoriasis on my scalp that nothing seems to help. I have been to doctors and tried several different shampoos, medicated creams and antibiotics. I have been given steroid creams now which do not seem to help either and I have tried every natural means of treatment I can think of and things I learned on line. Originally the scalp issue was misdiagnosed as seb. dermatitis. I also have some psoriasis/eczema on my thighs. Before the breakout on my head, I had severe loss of hair, and swollen areas on my scalp started a year prior, which I did not understand then, but I think I do now. I do have Hashimotos and hypothyroidism (diagnosed over 30 years ago). I have been on Thyroid meds for many years. I have osteoarthritis, fibremyalgia and other autoimmune and pain issues. This scalp issue is very frustrating for me. Thank you for listening.

    Reply
  8. Wow, I have had chronic hives for the past 14 months. No rhyme nor reason, they come out on no schedule, I’ll have a full body attack from my stomach down and then I may only get a few the next night. I can go weeks without them, and they show up.
    I have used everyone one of the things you listed. It wasn’t till I went to an allergy specialist that she connected the hashimotos with the hives. Beginning this year we added
    Plaquil, and then Xolair injections. We added Dapsone about 3 months ago, and it gave me hemolytic anemia. I’ve only had hives a few times until last week when they came back. It seems my skin is so sensitive any pressure will inflame my skin.
    Where do you suggest I begin now?

    Reply
  9. Prior to being diagnosed with hypothyroidism, I suffered with chronic hives. They appeared out of nowhere and I suffered with them for about 3-4 years. I saw the gamut of specialists, tried everything you mentioned with the exception of topical steroids. I was tested for Hashimoto’s, with a negative result, but have since developed hypothyroidism. I was eventually prescribed Claritin but at double the normal dose which did ultimately clear up the hives. For the last year or so, I have developed a plaque type skin condition and find that most foods I am not tolerating (Tums have become my best friend). The hives were from 2004 to about 2007, hypothyroidism diagnosed in 2012/2013

    Reply
  10. I’ve been told my skin condition is seborrheic keratoses which is several rough lesions and some dark colored spots mainly on my back and neck but a few other areas also. Never related it to my hypothyroidism that was diagnosed in 95 but after reading your article I’m convinced as that did begin the same year. With my other symptoms you’ve responded before that I have Hashimotos thyroiditis. I’m waiting to get signed up with a functional doctor so I can get a full thyroid panel as my current PCP will only order TSH, Free T3 & Free T4. The last 5 years I discovered myself that gluten was an issue along with dairy. My skin issues do improve when I can be dairy free but they have never totally disappeared. I’m currently taking natural NPT along with the thyroid/renal reset supplement. Was also diagnosed with basil cell skin cancer that same year and have had approximately 10 spots removed since then. Your information is so very helpful!! THANK YOU!

    Reply
  11. I don’t have hives but I have always suffered with eczema, especially on my face. I saw my functional doctor and she ran some tests and found I had food sensitivities to dairy and eggs. I cut them both out and haven’t had a single bad skin day in over a year

    Reply
  12. I have been suffering for over 7 years straight with hives and they itch on my arms from the top to the elbow. Prior to this, I had suffered for about 3 years straight and I had a dermatologist give me neurontin and was on this for about 6 months and the itching stopped for about 5 years and then started up again. I constantly itch and have scars from the wounds and use ice packs every single night. That is the only way I can fall asleep. I have been issued steroid creams for the last year and they do nothing at all. I have been taking the Hashimoto bundle for 2 weeks now. Should I start taking an anti-histamine and which one would be best? I would like to find out what foods cause the itch but where do I start to find out?

    Reply
  13. Dear Dr Westin, what about other skin issues? I have this crazy eczema on my hands, it is known as Pompholyx eczema, particular areas on my left thumb (swollen 3 times its size and the nail is totally affected too and first finger also swollen and can’t bend it and the nail badly affected and then the palms of my hands sore, cracked, skin shedding and painful and itchy for 16 months now driving me crazy! I have had Hashimotos since 1996 ( postpartum hypothyroidism but developed into Hashimotos and both not diagnosed for years!) Anyway, this started in 2020 January, and I have tried everything and I mean everything…no diary, no gluten, sugar or soy, no wheat, what more can I do?? A ton of various creams both by the dermatologist (all steroids and still no results) and many holistic all natural ones that sooth but do not heal and my scalp also tried with allopathic and all organic and natural and still nothing (!) and getting in to see a Dr was not easy over the Covid madness so please tell me, I am 65 years old, and I take 100mcgs of Levothyroxine and half a tab (12.5 mcgs) of T3, my bloods say all is well but then why is this here? AND my scalp just riddled with psoriasis now too and never had this before, what is this and how can I heal it all? I would pay you to consult with you, are you seeing patients at all? In Need of Your Help in London! Shawn Cohen

    Reply

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