Vibratory Angioedema and Hives

Vibratory angioedema is a rare form of chronic hives caused by a certain stimulus on the body. In this case, the stimulus is a strong vibration.

Man mowing the lawn
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The angioedema caused by vibratory angioedema often develop where the skin has been in contact with vibration within 10 minutes of the exposure. Sometimes, symptoms can be delayed. The angioedema will often peak 4-6 hours after exposure and subside within 24 hours. Characteristics of vibratory angioedema include:

  • Itchiness
  • Redness
  • Swelling


Vibratory angioedema can be an inherited problem (known as a hereditary autosomal dominant disorder) or it can be a spontaneously acquired response to a prolonged exposure to vibration.

It is an extremely rare condition in which the skin produces a hypersensitivity reaction to extended exposure to unremitting vibration.

Examples of stimuli that can cause vibratory angioedema in people prone to the condition include:

  • Operating a pneumatic hammer or machinery
  • Riding or pushing a lawnmower
  • Riding a motorcycle
  • Jogging
  • Rubbing vigorously with a towel

There are also some common at-risk occupations that may have higher incidences of the skin condition, based on the nature of the type of equipment frequently used. These at-risk occupations include:

  • Jackhammer operator
  • Carpenter
  • Machinist
  • Metal grinder
  • Landscaper


The main treatment of vibratory angioedema is the avoidance of the vibratory stimulus. The angioedema can be itchy but usually fades away on its own within 24 hours of exposure. To stay safe, individuals prone to vibratory angioedema should avoid any stimulus that has previously caused a reaction for that person.

If you notice symptoms of a rash or hives after coming into contact with a vibratory stimulus, please consider taking the following actions:

  • Consult a qualified healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment of your condition.
  • Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may order blood tests to screen you for hereditary angioedema.
  • Immediately stop using the offending stimulus and consider avoiding its further use in the future.
  • Ask your doctor if you should obtain and carry an epinephrine auto-injector due to your condition.
  • Certain therapies of antihistamines may be useful but discuss with your healthcare provider before using any over the counter medications.
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  • Kalathoor, Ipe. “Snoring-Induced Vibratory Angioedema." The American Journal of Case Reports 16 (2015): 700–702.PMC.

  • Zuberbier, Torsten and Marcus Maurer. “Urticaria: current opinions about etiology, diagnosis, and therapy.” Acta Derm Venereologica. 87(2007): 196-205.

  • Grattan, Clive, and Anne Kobza Black. "Urticaria and Angioedema." Dermatology. 2nd. Ed. Jean Bolognia. New York: Mosby, 2008: 261-76.
  • Habif, Thomas. "Urticaria and Angioedema." Clinical Dermatology, 4th Edition. Ed. Thomas Habif, MD. New York: Mosby, 2004. 129-61.

By Heather L. Brannon, MD
Heather L. Brannon, MD, is a family practice physician in Mauldin, South Carolina. She has been in practice for over 20 years.