What to Know About Living with Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria

by Kristina Brooks Editor

HealthCentral's team connected with people living with Chronic Urticaria (Hives). The goal was to hear what they’d most like to share about living with the condition. Many agreed that the CIU is nothing short of “life changing.” Here are some of the powerful ways people are affected by hives, and what they wish others knew.

Young woman talking to friend.

You don't know what it's like until you have it

“[I’d like others to know] that they can’t comprehend what it’s like until they have it.” - Carmen

People may not always be able to know what living with urticaria is really like, but learning more about chronic hives can help encourage understanding and awareness.


Know how to take care of yourself

“I know how to take care of myself, not by putting myself on excursions that will wind up taking me out of the game. I just want the understanding - that I’m not ducking out or avoiding anyone. I’m just trying to take care of myself.” - Karen M.

From knowing when it’s time to “sit out” to crafting a healthier diet, taking charge of your health is something to be proud of!

Stressed woman.

The anxiety never goes away

“It’s not just an itch.” “It’s not an allergy.” “The anxiety and the fear never go away.” -Lesley-Ann, Inez, Emily

For those caring for someone with urticaria, it’s important to know the basics about hives - to be more understanding of the condition, and how you can show support.

Exhausted woman.

Coping can get exhausting

“Just because I have learned to cope doesn’t make me OK.” "Even coping gets exhausting.” - Tina, Kerry

As with any chronic condition, coping can be one of the hardest obstacles to overcome. Leaning on the love, care, and support of others and dedicated organizations can make all the difference in living more positively with urticaria.

Woman washing hair in the shower.

CIU is unpredictable

“How unpredictable it can be! Even simple things like using hands to wash hair, chores like washing up, and things like walking can be painful - things most people can do without any bother.” -Erin

For relief from day to day pain caused by flare-ups, there are some known home remedies and lifestyle tips that may help.

Looking to future concept.

It's life changing

“It’s life changing! There is always uncertainty about what tomorrow will be like.” -Karen Y.

When living with CIU, anxiety about the next flare up can become a common occurrence. One of the best things a person can do is not let the anxiety hold them back from life. Staying positive with CIU is about learning to embrace the uncertainty, and enjoy the good moments at hand.

ulcerative colitis

It's often debilitating

[I want them to know] That it is real and often debilitating. I’ve just been told I have too much time off work, and that’s from a boss who used to suffer from it!” -Keri

Treating and managing chronic urticaria is no simple or easy task. But finding the best course of therapy for your skin can help minimize time away from work, life, and the things you enjoy.

Young woman rubbing eyes feeling poorly.

You feel allergic to yourself

“The feeling of being allergic to yourself.” -Robert

Many, but not all cases of hives and swelling are caused by the release of histamine in the body - causing an allergic reaction. Itching, swelling and pain for extended periods of time can feel like the body is attacking itself.

Woman leaning against the couch in a bad mood.

It's constantly on your mind

“[Urticaria is] constantly on your mind...always wondering if you will wake up and it’s back. [But also] Trying to stay positive and enjoy the good days!” -Robert

A hives flare up can happen at any time, even after a person has been in a time of remission from chronic hives. There are, however, things one can do to minimize the chance of a flare up.

Kristina Brooks
Meet Our Writer
Kristina Brooks

Kristina Brooks was a digital editor at HealthCentral with a background in animal biology, ecology, and health science. While studying broadcast journalism, she discovered the great need for health reporters that could translate research to the public. In her work, she hopes to use research to help consumers make smart decisions about their healthcare, and empower patients to stay confident and in charge of their chronic conditions. She helped launch HealthCentral's inaugural MythWeek.