Managing Heat-Induced Hives

by Eileen Bailey Health Writer

Heat, whether from hot weather, a hot shower, or rise in body temperature from exercising, can be a trigger for chronic hives. For some people, eating spicy foods can trigger heat hives.

Woman using water bottle to cool down.
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Heat rash vs. chronic hives

These are sometimes confused with heat rash, or prickly heat. Although both conditions can cause a rash, the causes and the appearance of the rash are very different. Prickly heat causes a rash with small red spots as a result of blocked sweat glands.

Skin allergies, legs women.
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What are heat hives?

Heat hives, also called cholinergic urticaria, is an allergic reaction caused by a rise in skin temperature. The rash can cover a small area on your body or can appear all over your body. It usually disappears once your body cools down.

Allergic reactions caused by urticaria.
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Symptoms

Symptoms of heat hives include itchy skin, prickly, tingling, or burning sensation, flushing of the skin, rash, or raised welts. Some people find they do not sweat until after the hives have appeared.

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How to treat

Antihistamines can be used when necessary to control the hives. These are available over-the-counter; however, your doctor also can prescribe stronger antihistamines. When the hives are severe or do not disappear after your body cools, your doctor might prescribe steroids or corticosteroids.

Black woman feeling hot standing in front of fan.
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Tips for keeping your skin cool

Because heat hives are a result of your skin temperature rising, it is important to take steps to keep your skin cool.

Man in the shower washing his head.
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Tip #1

Avoid taking hot showers. Opt instead for lukewarm water.

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Tip #2

Avoid spending time outdoors when it is hot. It you do, keep ice packs, cooling sprays, or cool compresses with you to cool your skin.

Young man making juice or smoothie in kitchen
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Tip #3

Avoid alcoholic beverages, especially during the hot weather, as these can raise your body temperature and cause a flare up of your hives.

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Tip #4

Wear clothing appropriate for the weather. Lightweight, cotton clothes in the warm months and wearing layers during the cold months so you can remove layers when you go into a heated environment can help.

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Tip #5

Pay attention to other triggers, such as spicy foods, and take steps to avoid them.

Cooling in the car
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Tip #6

If you notice a tingly or uncomfortable feeling on your skin, immediately take steps to cool your skin using cool water, going out in the cool air, or inside to an air conditioned environment to regulate your skin temperature.

Eileen Bailey
Meet Our Writer
Eileen Bailey

Eileen Bailey is an award-winning author of six books on health and parenting topics and freelance writer specializing in health topics including ADHD, Anxiety, Sexual Health, Skin Care, Psoriasis and Skin Cancer. Her wish is to provide readers with relevant and practical information on health conditions to help them make informed decisions regarding their health care.