Postpartum Hives: What Every Mother Should Know


Medically Reviewed by Dr. Lee Hwee Chyen

MBBS MRCP (UK) FAMS (Dermatology)

Postpartum Hives: What Every Mother Should Know

Postpartum hives, also known as urticaria, are a common condition that can affect women following pregnancy. These hives are typically itchy, red welts that can appear suddenly and spread quickly on the skin. They primarily result from allergic reactions that release histamine and other chemicals, leading to inflammation. Postpartum hives are not harmful when managed properly.

Causes of Postpartum Hives Linked to Pregnancy

Postpartum hives happen due to various factors linked to the body’s healing after pregnancy:

Hormonal Changes

Pregnancy involves significant hormonal fluctuations to support fetal development. After childbirth, as the body seeks to return to its pre-pregnancy hormonal state, these rapid shifts can impact the immune system’s function and skin sensitivity, triggering hives.


The postpartum period can be stressful as new mothers adjust to the demands of caring for a newborn. This stress can suppress the immune system, making the body more susceptible to allergic reactions like hives.


During and after pregnancy, women might come across new things that can cause allergies, like different foods, environmental factors, or medicines taken during or after giving birth. These exposures can lead to hives in women likely to have allergies.

Physical Factors

Unique postpartum conditions, including increased sweating, sleep deprivation, and the physical act of breastfeeding, can all contribute to the onset of hives during this period.

Symptoms and Identification During Post-Pregnancy

Postpartum hives manifest in a few different ways, which demonstrate how sensitive the body is as it goes through the changes from pregnancy to the postpartum period:

  • Sudden Appearance of Welts: The development of itchy, red welts that can emerge suddenly on any body part.
  • Transient Nature: These welts are known for their ability to disappear from one area and reappear in another, often within hours.
  • Itchiness: A hallmark of hives is significant itchiness, prompting a desire to scratch the affected areas.
  • Swelling (Angioedema): In some cases, hives are accompanied by angioedema, which involves deeper swelling under the skin. This is noticeable around sensitive areas like the eyes, lips, and, occasionally, the genital area.

Managing Postpartum Hives at Home

  • Cool Compresses: The application of cool compresses can offer instant itch relief and diminish inflammation.
  • Avoid Scratching: Scratching may be tempting but can trigger more hives and traumatize the skin further, leading to potential infections.
  • Loose Clothing: Opt for loose, soft clothing to minimise skin irritation as it heals.
  • Oatmeal Baths: A soothing oatmeal bath can alleviate skin irritation and reduce itchiness and inflammation.
  • Stay Cool: Keeping the body cool is crucial to preventing the overheating that can worsen hives.
  • Antihistamines: Oral antihistamines from your dermatologist are useful in controlling the hives and providing itch relief. While some antihistamines are easily available, it is important to check with your medical practitioner first if you are breastfeeding. It is best to check which type of oral antihistamines are safe for consumption during this period.

When to Seek Medical Attention

New mothers should seek advice from a dermatologist if postpartum hives persist and continue to have a significant impact on one’s quality of life. If the hives are accompanied by breathing difficulties or systemic symptoms like fever or joint pain, new mothers should seek medical attention as these could suggest other systemic conditions.

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