Hives, also called urticaria, are welts on the skin. They can range in size from small dots to large welts that cover a lot of skin area, which often connect to form larger hives. Individual hives will generally diminish within 24 hours.
Anyone can get hives, but they often result from an allergic reaction. People with allergies to pollen, mold, foods, insects, fragrances or dyes, medicines, and other substances are more prone to developing these rashes. About 20 percent of the population is affected by hives at some point in their lifetime. Infections, including colds, as well as illnesses, like lupus and thyroid disease, can also cause this allergic reaction. Other triggers for hives are heat, cold, sun exposure, exercise, stress, alcohol, chemicals, excessive scratching, or pressure on the skin.
Hives appear as pink or red patches on the skin, usually raised slightly above the normal skin surface. You may experience intense itching and the feeling of heat. Also, some swelling of the area may occur. Hives can accompany angioedema where the eyelids and mouth can swell. If this happens or if you have trouble breathing or swallowing, medical treatment should be sought immediately.
A doctor or dermatologist will often perform allergy or blood tests to rule out illness or infection, and a skin biopsy may also be taken. The most common treatment for hives is the use of an antihistamine, either over-the-counter or by prescription. Applying cool, wet cloths to the welts can also remedy mild or moderate cases of hives. Other medical treatments include inflammation-fighting medications and cortisones, although these are recommended for short-term use only. In some extreme cases of angioedema, epinephrine injections may be recommended. People with a known allergy or trigger for hives should avoid exposure to these elements.
Most instances of acute hives last less than six weeks, although some people are affected by chronic hives. If you are suffering from this allergic reaction, contact us. Our friendly and experienced staff will perform a diagnostic and give you the best treatment possible. For your convenience, you can schedule a consultation online or call our office.