Massage Contraindication: Hives

Massage Contraindication: Hives

Hives (aka Urticaria)

Hives are red (and often itchy) bumps on the skin. An allergic reaction to a drug or food usually causes them. Allergic reactions cause the body to release chemicals that can make the skin swell up in hives. People who have other allergies are more likely to get hives than others. Other causes include infections and stress.  Hives are not contagious.

Hives are very common. They will usually go away on their own, but in a serious case, medicine, a shot or medical treatment may be required. When hives last longer than six weeks, it is called chronic hives. Usually no cause can be found. Most chronic hives resolve on their own in less than one year.  In rare cases, hives can cause a dangerous swelling in of the airways, making it hard to breathe—which is considered a grave medical emergency.[i]

It is important to use extreme caution when working on someone who has hives. 

The client is most likely experiencing an allergic reaction which could become life threatening. Hives could also be a symptom of a more serious disease that could be contagious or noncontagious.

Avoid working on any local area that is affected by hives. And if this skin condition is caused by something contagious - then hives would be a symptom of an overall bodywork or massage contraindication. If you're unsure of the cause of a client's hives, it may be best to refer the client to their physician for a formal diagnosis prior to treatment.

The skin integrity from hives is COMPROMISED. As such, the client is particularly prone to infection if a practitioner works directly over broken skin, which is contraindicated.

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[i] U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Hives | Rash | Skin Rash | Itchy Skin.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 23 Apr. 2018,



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