Hives, clinically known as urticaria, are red and itchy skin welts that have such a rapid onset that you can sometimes see them erupting in real time. They can be highly uncomfortable and unsightly, though they do not cause lasting damage and generally do not reappear once they’ve run their course, which typically lasts a few days. These are known as acute, or short-term, hives. However, some people have what is classified as “chronic hives,” which are eruptions – or series of eruptions – that last longer than one month and continually return throughout the year.
The experts at IDI offer a series of effective treatments for hives, helping diverse patients improve their symptoms dramatically and achieve comfortable, healthy skin.
What Are Hives?
Hives can be outbreaks of aggravated, blotchy welts on the skin, commonly known as wheals. They might also be smaller, raised spots. Most often, they are pink or deep red, though they can also be flesh-toned or purple on darker complexions. They can appear on the arms, legs, trunk, face, and neck. One of their noteworthy characteristics is their quick appearance, disappearance, and reappearance. Unlike a contact dermatitis rash, a wheal can fully appear on the skin in 30 seconds to one minute, fade a few minutes to an hour later, and reappear in a different shape.
The discomfort and itching can sometimes be considerable. In particularly severe cases triggered by an allergic response, the wheals are accompanied by aggressive swelling inside the throat.
Wheals occur when atypically large amounts of histamine are released into the bloodstream, which might be caused by a variety of factors, including but not limited to:
- Certain foods, most commonly nuts, soy, and milk products
- Exposure to latex or some household chemicals
- Insect bites/stings
- Some pain medications
Hives are not inherently dangerous. However, if the symptoms persist for several weeks or months, you should seek medical attention to check for possible medical issues that could be compromising your immune response.
It’s important to isolate the triggers for hives, and this involves an in-depth consultation with your doctor about your lifestyle habits, including diet, activities, and any supplements and/or medications you’re taking. You will also go over your medical history and undergo a physical exam to determine if the outbreaks are an indication of an underlying medical condition. Bloodwork and skin biopsies may be performed.
Hives can be treated with standard, over-the-counter medications that control the itch and inhibit the overproduction of histamines. Most people with acute cases can successfully mitigate symptoms by taking antihistamine allergy medications and applying topical hydrocortisone creams.
If you have a particularly severe outbreak that is resistant to home remedies, you may be prescribed other medications, such as oral corticosteroids or immunosuppressants.
The team at IDI takes pride in helping patients successfully manage a broad spectrum of skin conditions. If you struggle with hives or another skin ailment, please don’t hesitate to contact the helpful team at IDI today.