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 David Clark, DC

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.

About 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.


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

READ NEXT: 92% of Hashimoto’s patients are deficient in Vitamin D

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About Dana Trentini

Dana Trentini M.A., Ed.M., founded Hypothyroid Mom October 2012 in memory of the unborn baby she lost to hypothyroidism. This 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 including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.


  1. Hi, I am currently going through iui cycles tog eat pregnant. A few days after the iui, I began getting hives. I eventually lost that baby and requested that my reproductive endocrinologist (since I dropped my regular endocrinologist because my instincts were telling me he wasn’t managing me thyroid well) a thyroid test. He tested for tsh and free t4 and found my tsh after the miscarriage was 5.5! He changed my level of ah thyroid and we did another cycle of iui as after just a week or so my tsh went down to 3.5 and was expected to continue to drop. I did the iui about 5 days ago and today is the 2nd day that I’m getting hives again, making me thinking I’m pregnant again. However the hives are so much worse this time. I can’t find any research online that specifically speaks to hives, Hashimotos, and pregnancy. I’m concerned that it’s a sign that my thyroid is doing something funny again, and there’s always that change that it’s my thyroid that caused the last miscarriage. I have another thyroid test happening on Tuesday and a hormone test on Monday. Any thoughts, ideas, or suggestions? I feel like I’m grasping for anything right now

    • I have hashimoto’s as well and recently found out I may have CIU as well. I had flare ups prior to my IVF transfer (which at the time they thought was an allergic reaction to something but couldn’t identify what). I also developed a horrible rash at the end of my pregnancy, which they said was likely PUPPS, looking back I’m wondering if it was just a flare up of this. I spoke to my doctor about all of this, and she said in hindsight, it’s very fitting because hormonal changes can lead to flare ups. Maybe this is what’s causing the reaction, whether your tsh is up or not? I also got shingles with my first pregnancy and during the suppression phase of IVF with my second so I really think any hormonal change wreaks havoc on my whole immune system.

  2. I have Hashimotos also. I think a lot of people with Hashimoto are sensitive to gluten I had hives 3 months straight and completely cut out gluten and they’ve been gone a few years. Recently I’ve got them from something else tho and can’t figure it out. But I would recommend try cutting out gluten for a month or so to most people and see if it that’s the cause.

  3. Trina Thomas says

    Good morning. I have been diagnosed with Graves Diseas back in 2012. I take meds for my thyroids. Last week I had a black mark on my buttocks and then 2 days later the hives came. It is now day 5 and they are still there. My doctor on Friday gave me some kind of steroid it dried the big hives but still pretty bad. Is there something over counter I should use? Or go back to my doctor.

  4. Long post but GOOD information in here:

    I have been suffering from hives for 8 months now. I have been to 6 doctors and UTSW in Dallas (the big guns) I have had 3 skin biopsy. One thought I was allergic to gluten. My primary doctor couldn’t help so after 17 years with him I got a new one, who still doesn’t know whats going on, my Gyno couldn’t help, even an Allergist (who really is trying to help me) All to tell me I just have urticaria hives. But not whats causing it or how to permanently solve the issue. My hairs breaking off, fatigue, insomnia, constipation, just to name a few. I couldn’t even workout I’m so exhausted everyday. I finally visited The Tennant Institute in Colleyville, TX.(March 2018) Dr. Marshall sent off for blood tests and said I probably have Hash. And put me on Adrenal supplements, Multivitamin, low dose of Progestrone (which has helped so much with dealing with stress, I feel very calm now) AND the big one…. Naltrexone 4.5mg. This is new. Doctors are trying out this medication for people with autoimmune diseases. It’s for drug dependant/alcohol issues(50mg). But in LOW doses they are finding that it’s helping people like me. My energy is so much better after a few weeks on this. My Pharmacist (a compounding pharmacist, not Walmart) said he is seeing more and more of this for auto. people and its working. If I wanted to stop taking it I could with no side effects. Back to Dr. Marshall… she found out thru blood test that Im Hashimoto’s. Which by the way she informed me that the national standard blood test for Hashimoto has JUST CHANGED. The blood test I took, the normal range was between 1-10. (For that lab) I’m at 12 now June 2018. I was at 30 in March 2018. It has now been changed to 1-30 now considered normal!!! Another doctor there (Tennant) specializes in skin issues. Dr. Hyde. I just began a treatment (shots) (LDA and Candida shot) that I will receive every other month (far cheaper than regular doc’s fees) ($90) and the serious will last 2 years. 6 shots the first year, 4 shots the next. By the 3rd round of shots he said my hives should almost be GONE. That’s Dec 2018. I’m trying not to hold my breath. He said it’s linked to Hashimoto and candida. I was also advised to do the SCD diet or the Candida diet. BUT absolutely no gluten or yeast. And drink 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in cup of water before every meal. This helps aid the gut. I was just sitting here googling information about hashimoto and hair loss and found this sight. I hope ANYTHING Ive said today HELPS someone out there. I have so many friends sick with issues. I now feel like I can relate. Unless you have experienced the storm yourself a person really has not clue how another feels or how they are trying to manage. Young mom with kids, older empty nesters… we are all in the same boat. Praying we have faith to get out of the boat and walk forward.

    • Michelle,
      I tried Great Lakes Collagen 2 TBS in warm water morning and night-it helped the hair loss a lot.
      I also drink Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar 2 Tbs in 16 oz filtered water with a little local honey. You could split it for 3 meals-just a word of caution-I have read it can really affect the enamel of your teeth and cause them to decay-I use a straw and put it back far enough to try to avoid my teeth-then drink filtered water after and dont brush your teeth for 30 minutes or it causes further enamel damage-just a few thing I read-you can check google for further advice or validation.
      Hope you get better soon-this is definitely a journey!
      Many Blessings, Jan

    • Maria Piccolo says

      Thank you for your information. You have armed me with some knowledge to advocate for myself.
      I already suffer with Psoriasis which I have had for years, an autoimmune issue. Now the hives have come. Stress triggered them I think, and now 2 weeks later hives everywhere constant. Going to an allergist in 2 weeks. I have all the symptoms of Hashimotos. I am a small person and out of nowhere with no dietary increase have gain a good 25 lbs!!!!
      I went to urgent care and received a prednisone shot and that helped a little but once out of my system they came back. I can’t imagine this going on for years.
      I also take Tamoxifen for breast cancer. I am wondering if that might have something to do with it.
      I have a question about Candida. 1.5 years ago, after having an endoscopy for another issue the gastro said I had yeast present in my esophagus and was put on Diflucan for 1 week. On day 4 I broke out with hives all over my body from head to toe. was put on predn. and they went away. I am wondering now after reading your post if this isn’t all related, Hormone medication, Candida, Psoriasis etc etc.
      Agh this is not fun

    • Thanks so much for your post. I am suffering horribly with chronic hives on top of Hashimoto’s. Have heard about Low Dose Naltrexone and hoping to find a doctor who will prescribe it. So far no luck! Can you please post a follow up to say if it worked for you? Hives are ruining my life….

    • Michele, I don’t know if you’ll see this. I’m in Texas and considering driving to the tennant institute based on your post here. I have everything hou mentioned and more. Hives daily, horrible hair loss and breakage, carpal tunnel and hands swelling and feet swelling, arms are very weak, swollen lips and tremors in face and hands, labs for thyroid all over the place. Can you give me an update please on how you’re doing now? Please, anyone who can help me. I’m desperate. I have a five month old baby and I’m suffering

  5. I had hives for 6 months straight, my doctor couldn’t find the right antihistamine for me, did one round of steroids when I finally had to be admitted to the hospital. Finally found an antihistamine called Ruppal which worked for 3 months. In the mean time I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease and was put on Synthroid (which did nothing for the hives even though I had my fingers crossed). Hives have returned and I’m on week 4, the Ruppal is barely working, needing to take up to 3 doses a day.
    The ONLY instant long lasting relief has been Rosemary Oil. It has been a true life saver, as long as you can stand the ‘hippie’ smell I call it, then you will notice a great deal of relief as well as decreased swelling on your joints. I hope this helps someone out there, because I feel your pain!

  6. I have had hives for 8wks now. Have seen the allergist he believes I have cold allergy. It gets worse with activity and when my body temp changes to fast. From cold to warm and back again. Its itchy and painful. He is doing a bunch of test to see what all he can find. I have had problems with cold for awhile. But never put two and two together. My mouth feeling sore and swollen ,eyes swollen and lips. Along with my hand and feet swelling palms and soles and on top. Tried to swim a couple of weeks ago and broke out from head to toe. Hoping for answers soon

  7. Kelly Niles says

    I am currently taking the immunosuppressant, Cellcept (Mycophenalate). It has kept me hive free for a year. At some point it may stop working as it has at other times, but it has been a life saver right now.

    Otherwise i take combinations of Zyrtec, Rantadine, Singular, Benedryl, and when i need a break, i beg for 10 days of prednisone. I also have Hashimotos, type 1 diabetes, RA and a rare autoimmune muscle disease. I take 1000mg twice a day of the cellcept.

    My allergist uses Xolair and it works for many people, but it doesn’t seem to work with many patients with more than one autoimmune condition. I tried for 9 months.

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