Hives are red, raised, itchy “welts” on the skin that are called urticaria in medicine. Your hives may last from a few minutes to several hours. When they last for more than six weeks, they are referred to as chronic urticaria.
The cause of hives is often unclear. Stress and temperature extremes can worsen hives. Severe itching is the most bothersome symptom and can interfere with your school or work activities, and even disrupt your sleep. Sometime anti-itch and antihistamine medications provide relief.
Symptoms of Hives:
- Itchy, raised, red or skin-colored welts (also called wheals) that can occur anywhere on your body
- Welts may vary in size from small bumps to large wheals over an entire body area, they often change shape, and they appear and fade as the skin reaction runs its course
- Deeper, painful swelling (angioedema) of your lips throat and eyelids
- Tendency for worsening of your symptoms with increased stress and temperature extremes
- No blistering, bruising or scarring unless you severely scratch the welts
Causes of Hives:
The skin reaction that causes hives may be caused by allergies, viral infections or even medications you take, such as pain medications (aspirin and ibuprofen). Often the cause of hives is unclear. Increased stress and temperature extremes can worsen your hives. Sunlight, scratching, exercise or even food and alcohol may cause hives. Chronic urticaria is not usually due to a specific trigger, but rather from overreaction of immune cells in your body called mast cells. The mast cells release histamine and other chemicals into your bloodstream which cause chronic hives.
Treatment Options for Hives:
- Avoiding triggers
- H1 receptor blockers (i.e Zyrtec, Claritin, Allegra, etc.)
- H2 receptor blocker (i.e. cimetidine, etc.)
- Leukotriene modifiers (i.e. montelukast)
- Steroids (prednisone)
- Immunosuppressive Therapy (i.e cycolosporine, azathioprine, etc.)
- Biologic Therapy (i.e. Xolair)
Our specialists will work closely with you to determine which therapy is right for you. Our allergy testing helps identify triggering substances if your hives are due to specific allergies.