Does citalopram cause hives? (5 factors)

In this article, we will explore whether citalopram causes hives. We will also talk about the contributing factors, the management strategies for citalopram-induced hives, and what should be done if hives persist. 

Does citalopram cause hives?

Citalopram can cause hives, but it is not a common side effect. Individuals who are sensitive to citalopram or related antidepressants may experience allergic reactions such as hives, rashes, blisters, or other skin-related issues. 

Citalopram belongs to the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class of drugs. Citalopram, also known as Celexa, works by blocking the reuptake of serotonin in the synaptic regions of the brain. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter regulates sleep, mood, emotions, appetite, memory, and the body’s response to stressful situations (1). 

Hives, also known as urticaria, is a skin condition in which you may observe symptoms such as redness, and itchy bumps on the skin. You may experience hives which can be triggered by some food groups to which you are allergic, some insect bite, or a reaction to medicine. There are two kinds of hives; acute hives may take a few days to subside; however, chronic hives may remain for longer periods (2). 

What factors contribute to citalopram-induced hives?

The contributing factors to citalopram-induced hives may include:

  • If you have a history of allergy to antidepressants, especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, you may be more prone to experience hives with citalopram. 
  • If you have ever experienced hives due to an unknown trigger, being allergic to some foods, or may be an insect bite, there are more chances that you may experience hives again. 
  • Some drugs when used in combination with citalopram, may have a drug interaction and cause reactions such as blisters, redness, or swelling.
  • Some patients are sensitive to citalopram due to their specific genetic makeup and physiological responses, therefore they may respond differently to citalopram and develop skin-related issues. 
  • Use of citalopram at higher doses for extended periods may increase the risk of developing hives in some individuals (3). 

It is important to note that not everyone taking citalopram may experience hives. However, if you suspect any allergic reaction while taking citalopram or any other medicine, you should immediately seek medical attention. 

What are the management strategies for citalopram-induced hives?

The management strategies for citalopram-induced hives are discussed below:

Pharmacological treatment for hives

Your doctor may prescribe antihistamines which are the first line of treatment for citalopram-induced hives. You may get the most benefit from antihistamines when you are experiencing hives for a short duration.

If your condition and symptoms of citalopram-induced hives do not get better with antihistamines, your doctor may prescribe corticosteroids such as prednisone for hives. However, corticosteroids should only be used for short-term treatment (4,5). 

Antihistamines and corticosteroids are prescription drugs and should only be taken if prescribed by your healthcare provider. Your doctor will determine which treatment is best for you to treat citalopram-induced hives depending on the severity of your symptoms. 

Non-pharmacological treatment for hives

The non-pharmacological ways of managing citalopram-induced hives may include: 

  • You should avoid going out in the sun when you are experiencing hives.  
  • You should wear loose clothes to avoid itching, tight clothes may make you feel more uncomfortable. 
  • Citalopram may also cause dry skin, therefore take a shower with normal water to prevent the worsening of hives. 
  • You should use a rich moisturiser to avoid dryness.
  • Avoid scrubbing with harsh soaps as it may worsen your condition.
  • Be vigilant for triggers and avoid them such as certain food groups, insect bites, or stress. 
  • Try to reduce your stress levels by practising yoga, breathing exercises, or meditation, it may also help you to feel better and stay relaxed (6). 

What to do if citalopram-induced hives persist?

If citalopram-induced hives persist, your healthcare provider may suggest gradually discontinuing citalopram and switching you to an alternative antidepressant which might be suitable for you.

Antidepressant treatment mainly involves a trial and error phase as one medication effective for one individual might not be suitable for another. Therefore, if you observe any side effects or skin-related issues while using citalopram, inform your healthcare provider immediately. 

As per my analysis, citalopram can cause hives in susceptible individuals. Hives can be experienced by individuals who have a history of skin-related issues, allergic reactions to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or allergic to certain foods. 

If you notice any allergic reaction, please immediately reach out to your healthcare provider. They will evaluate your current symptoms, family or medical history, and take appropriate actions necessary to manage your condition. These management strategies may include pharmacological and non-pharmacological approaches depending on the severity of your symptoms. 

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