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Why do I break out into hives when I am stressed?

I am an 18 year old college student. Since I was about 12 years old I have been breaking out in hives when I am stressed. The hives can form anywhere on my body but are usually on my arms or abdomen. The hives itch and if I scratch them the usually get worse. I take Benadryl, and it helps as a quick fix when it gets really bad. Is there any particular reason why this might be happening?
Stress can be a very important means for us in certain situations (fight or flight situations) but stress can also have very adverse effects on the body. These can manifest as many different things depending on how your body deals with stress. GI complains such as diarrhea or constipation, headaches, increased heart rates and perspiration are common symptoms related to stress, but hives are not as common a presentation of stress. For this reason, it is important that you be evaluated by your primary care doctor who will be best able to evaluate your medical history and presenting symptoms and decide upon the appropriate work up. This may include lab studies and imaging studies. They may also recommend a referral to a specialist. Some of the other options that they may consider are allergic reactions, although this seems less likely in the setting of hives that appear with stress only. They may also recommend medications to help with you deal with the stress depending on what they find. The most important first step is to be evaluated by your primary care doctor as it is difficult to diagnose this based upon the information given here.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under ZocDoc’s Terms of Service.

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