What Not to Wear When Living with Chronic Hives

by Eileen Bailey Health Writer

If you are living with chronic hives there is a good chance you or your doctor haven’t come up with a reason for the condition. Even so, certain clothing can increase your chances of breaking out into hives. Continue reading to make sure your clothes aren't contributing to your flares.

Woman struggling to put on tight jeans

Tight-fitting and constricting clothes

Friction and pressure, caused by tight-fitting clothes or clothes that don’t have any give (think tight jeans), can worsen hives or cause an outbreak, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).

Girl drinking hot tea and reading book in bed and wearing comfortable clothing

What to wear instead

The ACAAI suggests wearing loose-fitting clothes. This can include sweatpants, athletic pants and loose fitting shirts. Some people find leggings or stretch pants work well, as long as there aren’t any interior seams or a rough interior that will rub against the legs. Slacks are usually better than jeans. Look for cotton or other soft fabrics.

Winter knitted clothes stack on wooden background


During the cold months, you might be tempted to wear a wool sweater or jacket to keep yourself warm. Wool fabrics tend to scratch or rub against the skin and can worsen your hives and increase itchiness. Some people might also be allergic to wool. For those people, being near wool can trigger a flare.

Man wearing layers outside

Manage the temperature with layers

Some people find their hives worsen in different temperatures. Some people get hives from the heat and some from cold air. The best option is to wear layers so you can add or remove clothing to help regulate your body temperature based on the air around you.

Man tightens belt

Don't tighten your belt

Pressure against your skin, such as that caused by wearing a tight belt, can trigger hives.

Young woman walking and shopping, wearing skirt with cloth belt

Elastic waists or cloth belts are better

Casual pants that have elastic around the waist are often a better option than tight belts. Look for waistlines where the elastic isn’t going to push against your skin. If you must wear a belt, try a cloth belt that has an adjustable closure so it isn’t too tight.

Blisters, woman on high heels has difficulties to walk

Avoid ill-fitting shoes

Shoes that don’t fit properly can rub against your heels and the sides of your feet, triggering hives. Shoes that are too big or too small can cause problems.

Close-up of man trying on new moccasins shoes, wardrobe interior

Have your shoes properly fitted

Look for soft leather, such as moccasins, or cloth shoes that aren’t going to rub. Make sure you are fitted properly. Athletic footwear is usually more comfortable than formal leather shoes; however, when getting athletic shoes, make sure they allow your feet to breathe. Sweaty feet can also trigger hives.

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.