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Allergies

Possible marijuana allergy?

02/21/2007

Question:

For a few years I have been experiencing symptoms of hives (small, red bumps or marks, not usually raised, often itchy, on varying parts of my body but most often on my arms, neck, and torso, and especially itchy around areas of close clothing contact like my bra line or sleeve cuffs) that appear to be temperature-related. I get them when I move from cold outside to a warm indoor environment, when I exert myself moderately (i.e. a brisk walk) in the cold weather, and when I exercise. I suspect that these may be related to my habitual marijuana use, as these symptoms decline and sometimes disappear when I have not smoked in a few weeks. However, I do not get any allergic symptoms when I actually smoke, hives or otherwise. I was wondering if this could actually be marijuana-related and if so, why I do not see any symptoms from the smoking itself and why are my symptoms so seemingly unrelated to the areas affected by smoking. for example, is it possible to be allergic to the THC metabolites that get stored in my fat cells? thanks for your help and information.

Answer:

It is more likely that you are experience what we refer to as "physical hives".  Cholinergic hives occurs with body temperature shifts; Cold-induced hives occurs in cold temperatures; Heat induced in response to hot temperatures, exercise induced from exercise...I have not come across of any cases of hives induced by marijuana or THC.  The best solution to see if the hives go away and stay away is to stop smoking weed.  I would see a board certified internal medicine trained allergist experienced in the evaluation and treatment of physical hives.

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Response by:

Jonathan   Bernstein, MD Jonathan Bernstein, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati