I get hives whenever I scratch them. My nose drips whenever I blow it. There’s a rash on my wrist which only appears when I’m near a mirror. I don’t quite understand how that works, but I’m very afraid of mirrors now so it’s probably for the better.
Unless you have a medical condition that compels you to stop scratching, your impulse to itch is pretty innocuous. It’s the act of scratching that can turn benign hives into more problematic scenes, isn’t it?
When I scratch, I get hives.
When I scratch, I get hives. It’s a simple fact of life and one that can be a lot more complicated than you think.
Hives are raised, and itchy bumps on your skin are caused by an allergic reaction to something that touches you. They’re often red and swollen, but they can also be white or blue. The most common causes of hives are insect bites and certain foods, but sometimes they’re caused by medications or infections like herpes simplex virus (HSV).
So why do some people get hives when they scratch? Well, it turns out that scratching can cause hives in some people! This is called “autoeczematization” or “self-induced urticaria.”
The reason for this is that when you scratch your skin, you damage the top layer of cells (the epidermis), which causes them to release histamine as part of their healing process. If your body is already sensitive to histamine (like if you have allergies), then this can trigger an allergic reaction that makes the area feel itchy and swollen.
When you scratch the itch, you can break the skin and release histamine into your bloodstream. Histamine is a chemical that causes blood vessels to dilate and become more permeable (basically, it’s what makes your face turn red). When this happens, white blood cells rush to the area and release chemicals called cytokines which cause inflammation at the site of damage. The result: You get hives!