Who Develops Chronic Hives?

Hives are red, itchy bumps on your skin. Many people experience acute (short-term) hives at some point in their life. But chronic hives are a rarer condition.1

Chronic hives are a condition where hives come and go for 6 weeks or more. Usually, there is no known cause of chronic hives. About 1.6 million people in the United States are living with chronic hives at any time.1

How common are chronic hives?

Between 0.1 and 5 percent of people in the United States have chronic hives. This is about 1.6 million people. The rate is similar in other countries around the world.1,2

A higher percentage of people experience hives at some time during their lifetime. Between 15 and 20 percent of people have acute hives at least once in their life. About 2 to 3 percent of people have chronic hives at some point in their life.3

Roughly 1.4 percent of people per year develop chronic hives. This means that in a group of 100 people, about 1 will develop chronic hives.2

Chronic hives by age

People of any age can develop chronic hives. However, it is more common among adults, especially adults over age 40. Chronic hives typically begin between 20 and 40 years old. One study found that the rates of chronic hives per age group includes:4,5

  • 214 cases per 100,000 adults aged 18 to 29 years (0.21 percent)
  • 207 cases per 100,000 adults aged 30 to 39 years (0.21 percent)
  • 256 cases per 100,000 adults aged 40 to 49 years (0.26 percent)
  • 246 cases per 100,000 adults aged 50 to 59 years (0.25 percent)
  • 228 cases per 100,000 adults over age 60 (0.23 percent)

Other studies have found slightly different rates of chronic hives among each age group. But the trend remains the same, where adults over age 40 have the highest rates.6

Chronic hives by gender

Women are twice as likely as men to have chronic hives. One study found that the rate of chronic hives among men and women is:7

  • 310 cases per 100,000 women (0.31 percent)
  • 146 cases per 100,000 men (0.15 percent)

Women are twice as likely as men to have chronic hives for each individual age group. The highest rate of chronic hives seems to be in women aged 40 to 49 years old.7

Other studies have found slightly different rates for men and women. But all studies have agreed that women have about double the risk of chronic hives as men.6

Chronic hives by race and ethnicity

There is not yet much research on ethnic or racial differences in the rates of chronic hives. Most studies have found similar rates around the world. One study showed that white Americans are slightly less likely to have chronic hives than other racial groups. The study found rates of:4,6,7

  • 292 cases per 100,000 Black Americans (0.29 percent)
  • 262 cases per 100,000 white Americans (0.26 percent)
  • 331 cases per 100,000 other Americans (0.33 percent)

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Written by: Matt Zajac │ Last reviewed: April 2022