What Causes Hives in the Winter?

 What Causes Hives in the Winter?

If you have ever noticed a red, raised, and itchy rash, it is likely that you have experienced hives, or urticaria. If you notice them appear more often in the winter, you may have cold urticaria. Hives are caused from a variety of factors and can be triggered depending on the season. Whether you are experiencing hives for the first time or have a history of them, the skilled dermatologists at the Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute can help determine the cause and provide treatment options.

Hives Overview

The American Academy of Dermatology Association classifies hives as a skin reaction that causes bumps, raised patches, or both to suddenly appear on the skin. The bumps become itchy and swollen and range from small to several inches in size. Hives can appear anywhere on your body such as the back, chest, arms, or legs. Hives are not contagious and typically do not last more than 24 hours.

Anyone can develop hives, but those who are African American, have eczema, or smoke cigarettes are at greater risk. Hives can be caused from something you eat that causes an allergic reaction or something that touches your skin such as sweat, cold, or sunlight. In the winter, the temperature drastically drops and can result in hives. Some individuals only get hives in the winter. This doesn’t mean you have to hide inside all winter, but you need to work with a dermatologist to determine preventative options. Whether you have hives just in the winter or year-round, our dermatologists can provide treatment options.

Hives Treatment

Treatment helps to relieve discomfort and hopefully help to prevent new hives from occurring. A dermatologist may offer an anti-itch cream, antihistamine, corticosteroid, auto-injector, or light therapy as part of your treatment plan. Anti-itch cream contains menthol that can help to relieve the need to scratch the hives. Antihistamines provide the same relief but are taken orally. They can also help to reduce swelling. Corticosteroids are used in severe cases and help to relieve itching and swelling. An auto-injector is given to those who have life-threatening allergic reactions. When an allergic reaction occurs, use an EpiPen immediately.

Lastly, light therapy, or phototherapy, is a successful treatment option when the others do not work. Phototherapy involves patient exposure to ultraviolet rays and helps to treat hives and other skin diseases. The ultraviolet rays help to increase vitamin D production, which helps to ease skin inflammation. During treatment, the affected skin is exposed to the ultraviolet rays for about 20 minutes. Multiple treatments will need to be done to see results. With a variety of treatment options, one or more may be combined depending on the severity of your hives and if they are chronic or not.


Winter is here, and hives might already be on the way. We know they are uncomfortable and that you want them treated as soon as possible. If you think you have hives and are in Bloomington, Illinois or the surrounding areas, complete this form. A dermatologist from the Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute will be in touch to help.

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We look forward to serving you. Please let us know who you are and what kind of skin care services you looking for, and we will be in touch to schedule your appointment.