Chronic Hives and Hashimoto’s Autoimmune Thyroiditis

Chronic Hives and Hashimoto's Autoimmune Thyroiditis

Whenever I hear from a Hypothyroid Mom reader struggling with itchy red welts known as hives, I ask them if they’ve had full thyroid testing including thyroid antibodies for Hashimoto’s and the answer is too often NO.

Written by Dr. David Clark, DC Functional Neurologist

Let’s talk about the connection between chronic urticaria and Hashimoto’s autoimmune hypothyroidism.

Chronic idiopathic urticaria is a condition in which you get itchy wheals on your skin that can vary in size and number.

“Chronic” means that the condition has been going on for a quite a while, versus just a day or two.

“Idiopathic” means that the cause is unknown (or at least not known yet).

Urticaria can be caused by food alleriges or medications–but Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria appears NOT to be related to those mechanisms.

Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria (CIU) can be brought on by exercise or stress–and as we’ll see in just a minute, Hashimoto’s autoimmune hypothyroidism.

About 30 years ago there was the first research to see the connection between CIU and autoimmune thyroid disease. Then, a study released in 2011 picked up that topic again.

What is the connection between Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria and Hashimoto’s?

The research shows that anywhere between 45% to 55% of people with Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria ALREADY have an autoimmune condition…they are making antibodies to IgE (immunoglobulin E) or the IgE receptor. IgE is a part of your immune system.

So, in many CIU patients, their immune system is attacking a part of their immune system!

If you’re making antibodies to a piece of yourself and you’re attacking it—that is autoimmunity.

Interestingly, the authors of this 2011 paper didn’t really understand how there could be a connection between CIU and autoimmune thyroid. But, one of the researchers they quote described thyroid autoimmunity and CIU as “parallel autoimmune events.” (I love that description).

In other words, Hashimoto’s and Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria are both autoimmune conditions that can happen at the same time.

I look at that like this…

If you’ve already broken the tolerance to yourself, then you can start attacking anything.

And if you’ve already developed a situation in which you’re attacking your thyroid… Hashimoto’s, which causes low thyroid symptoms such as depression, constipation, weight gain, hair loss and brain fog…

…if you’ve already got Hashimoto’s it’s not that big of a leap to think that you could develop something like chronic urticaria because it’s another autoimmune condition.

Likewise, if you first develop the skin problem of Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria, and then develop low thyroid symptoms you most likely have Hashimoto’s as an autoimmune cause for your hypothyroidism.

FYI — Hashimoto’s is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the U.S.

The 2011 study found that 25% of chronic idiopathic urticaria patients had positive antibodies for Hashimoto’s – 25%!

That is significant.

I wanted to share this with you because many times a woman will have symptoms and not realize that they’re crucial clues about what’s really causing their problems.

If you’ve ever been diagnosed with chronic idiopathic urticaria and you’ve now developed low thyroid symptoms, there’s a good chance you have Hashimoto’s.

Likewise, if you’ve already got Hashimoto’s and you develop these short-lasting or even long-lasting itchy wheals that come and go–now you understand they likely are another symptom of your autoimmune condition.

These may be a sign that your autoimmune condition has expanded a little bit into another tissue—not a good sign. We don’t want the autoimmune process to do that.

You need to find someone that can help you deal with the total package. Unfortunately, taking Synthroid or Cytomel or Armour or Nature-Throid for Hashimoto’s doesn’t do much to stop the raging fire of the autoimmune condition.

The same thing goes for the urticaria…

You can take steroids for it but that doesn’t really solve the problem, right? It just temporarily suppresses your immune system.

What tests should they run for you to determine if you have Hashimoto’s?

These two simple tests:

TPO Antibodies
TGB Antibodies

Most doctors typically don’t run a full thyroid panel, which include antibodies, because in their mind they don’t need to because they really only have one tool to offer you: replacement hormones like Synthroid or Armour.

But if you have Hashimoto’s, the replacement hormones aren’t very helpful in the long run.

Sure, you can enjoy a “hormone honeymoon” where you feel good for a few weeks or few months. Over time, your dosage keeps changing but you still feel bad.

I just wish that doctors would check for these things. I wish more doctors knew that there was something you can do for Hashimoto’s on top of giving thyroid hormones:

  • Changing diet
  • Making sure the GI tract is healthy–not leaky
  • Decreasing inflammation and cytokine levels
  • Improving brain function

You have to be an advocate for yourself.

You have some powerful information now, so go find someone to get you tested.

And find someone who’ll know what to do if you show up abnormal.

Chronic urticaria and Hashimoto’s…”parallel autoimmune events.”


About Dr. David Clark, DC Functional Neurologist

Dr. David Clark found Chiropractic during his journey to change his own health and poor habits. In 2005 Dr. Clark became one of less than 1,000 board-certified Chiropractic Neurologists in the world. Chiropractic Neurology brings together current research findings from fields such as psychology, neuropsychiatry, neurology, neurophysiology and nutrition. Dr. Clark has lectured at leading chiropractic colleges, medical schools and private schools on topics such as alternative medicine, nutrition, neurology and learning/behavior problems such ADHD, Autism and Dyslexia.

He specializes in treating Hashimoto’s Autoimmune Thyroiditis at his Center for Low Thyroid Solutions in Durham, NC. You can also find Dr. Clark on Facebook and YouTube.


Thyroid. 2011 Apr;21(4):401-10. Review.

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About Dana Trentini

I founded Hypothyroid Mom October 2012 in memory of the unborn baby I lost to hypothyroidism. Hypothyroid Mom is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for consulting your physician regarding medical advice pertaining to your health. Hypothyroid Mom includes affiliate links to favorite resources including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Connect with me on Google+


  1. What will help with the hives? The 1st shot I got of xolair worked but as soon as I got the 2nd one they came back. I don’t know what to do I hate living like this

    • Ive been dealing with CIU since May after 3 xolair injections no relief. Will treating the thyroid if it is the culprit I wonder “cure” the hives.

      • I had the hives for 2 days, then itching for a month. Benadryl when needed, lots of vitamin c 1,000 to 3,000 a day, I cut out chocolate, and lowered my bread eating to maybe 1 piece a day.still waiting to have more blood work in another week. I went completely off the levothytoxine a few weeks ago. I swear that was making me very ill. Someone mentioned I might have gotten a bad batch of medicine. Been on it for years. Also switched to Aveeno for shower and lotion. Mild laundry detergent, hope this helps somone !Since being off the levothytoxine I’m starting to feel better.

    • Melicia Jane Batts says:

      Are you on synthetic thyroid? I am allergic and after demanding armor thyroid or equivalent I feel better, i do still have other issues however I am so glad I’m alive

  2. I just found out I have this, I have hives soooo Bad ! Any help to stop the mad itching and hives all over would be greatly appreciated!!! My skin is awful! I have Hashimoto and autoimmune disease! Switched to synthoid levothytoxine was causing worse symptoms!

    • I use Zantac and generic Sudafed Allergy pills. My doctor said Prilosec but Zantac is cheaper. Once I am under control, I can go years without a breakout. Hope this helps. Hives are the worst.

    • Melicia Jane Batts says:

      Stop synthetic thyroid, use armor or generic armor

  3. Do any of you have hives that blister??

  4. Hi I am 55 and for the past 25 years I have had chronic Idiopathic Urticaria and delayed pressure urticaria and also have had 2 thyroidectomies I have 2 very small pieces left and they said I have hypothyroidism, I have taken prednisone everyday for 25 years some small doses some very very large doses, in the beginning the doctor said my histamine level was high enough to kill a horse, I’ve suffered daily with these hives they either burn like fire or it to where I want to remove my skin, should I ask my de to test me for Hashimotos disease and what are the chances of me having it. I did recently see a report of a mri that I had that said that a t2 weighted something signal in my spine had something to do with the brain and the report mention auto immune disease. Any help would be appreciated. Thank yo

  5. I have every type of test done I cry cause of the pain from the hives all over my body my head, face lips eyes chest area back legs feet toes butt …. I can’t take it I went to the doctor said my tyroid level was normal but my Goid was big they put me on Doxepin 10mg but not helping . Im 37 year old mom and I hate going to work or out side with my face swollen up and my lips so big I can’t tAke this

    • My daughter started having chronic hives at 8years old, she’s now 13 and still has them. We found that taking Allegra or Zyrtec along with Ranitidine (which is the generic name) every day, morning and night keep them at bay. If she gets sick, they need Benadryl or prednisone but most of the time, the allergy pills work. She also has to avoid inflammatory foods, like sugar and grains, which are tough for her to avoid but make her feel better.

  6. I have had hives on and off for the past 20 years. The first time they lasted for 5 years. Sometimes they only last a year. I had most of my thyroid removed because of a module growing on it and I have been on synthroid ever since. I cannot really tell if I take the synthroid or not. This last time I broke out in hives I have gone to see an immunologist. He has been super helpful in getting to the bottom of things. Prednisone helps for a while but any antihistamine I take doesn’t touch them. He did some thyroid antibody tests and found I was producing antibodies against my thyroid. We are going to try cyclosporine. I suggest you find someone who will listen to you and your concerns. It is usually not a thyroid dr though. They are only concerned with the “numbers” of your t4 and don’t look for any correlation. My thyroid dr actually told me they had nothing to do with each other and that I was just allergic to something. And that if I hadn’t found it in the past 20 years I probably won’t.

    • I completely agree with you. My allergist diagnosed me with Hashimoto’s. My endocrinologist told me hives & thyroid weren’t related. Find someone who is knowledgeable. I have been taking cetirizine 10mg (generic form of Zyrtec) once a day for the last 20 years and that keeps my hives at bay.

  7. Have been miserable with hives since November (its April now). Feeling a bit upset having read all this. I have Hashi and RTL epilepsy, but my DR has never said Anything about these hives being connected. She continues giving me prednisone but the raised welts never go away and keep itching and burning. Seeing my DR on Monday and am going to press her for more tests. Thank you all.

    • Go to a endo dr it is related

    • Cleo- The hives are related to Hashi. I started off getting hives 20 years ago. I went to an allergist. He is the one that diagnosed me with Hashi. I went to an endo. She told me it wasn’t related but it is. My allergist told me they don’t read the same literature about it. Find someone educated enough or a Dr that will listen to you. You don’t need to suffer with hives. I take cetirizine 10mg once a day (for the last 20 years) and it keeps the hives away. This is a generic version of Zyrtec. Find a pharmacy that carries it. O-T-C but usually kept in pharmacy. You can also buy it at Sam’s Club. 2 bottles packaged for $18.00 200 tablets ea. Very affordable.

  8. Go to a endo doctor

  9. Kary Rhein says:

    I’m on synthroid with a recent positive ana test and chronic itching, when Ingo off the meds itching better and almost resolves but feel awful when not on it. I try to not eat gluten and no chocolate or alcohol.

  10. Kary Rhein says:

    To add I have heard thyroid meds cause itchiness it’s a side effect, sadly. I itch and have been for 5 years and have allergies to all meds even the natural ones. I have allergies to the entire world it feels like sometimes. It’s a struggle for sure. Eat right, sleep enough, exercise to deal with stress, drink lots of water.

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