Hives

hives

What is it?

Hives are a skin condition that leaves swollen bumps, similar to goosebumps that are red and itchy. Hives are also known as Urticaria. Hives may occur only on certain areas of the body, or all over. These bumps occur suddenly as the skin reacts to something it doesn’t agree with or nerves set in. It may be alarming to see your skin react, but keep calm as it may be something minor like hives.

Causes

There are a few different causes for hives including an allergic reaction. The allergic reaction may be from food, too much sun, medications, preservatives and certain irritants.

Another common reason that a person might develop hives is due to direct sun exposure. In this case, the hives only will appear where the sun directly hit the skin. Other irritants such as soap and friction may cause hives. There are many other causes of hives that you can consider as well including tight clothing, scratching, laundry detergent and more.

Dermatologist examines child patient birthmark

Symptoms

The main symptom of hives are bumps that appear on the skin. Hives may appear all over the skin, or may show up in just certain areas, most commonly the face, chest and arms. The size of a hive can be anywhere from as small as a goosebump to the size of a large welt. The bumps may be very itchy or even painful. Although it may be tempting to scratch the hives in order to get some release from the itching, try to avoid doing this as it can spread bacteria and make the problem worse. Hives can last for varying periods of time, with some lasting as little as a couple hours and others lasting 24 hours before they start to dissipate. Hives may even occur under the skin, with swelling that takes place around the eyes, feet, lips, hands and possibly the genitals. Angioedema lasts up to 24 hours.

Diagnosis

You may be able to diagnose Hives on your own, based on your symptoms and how often you get them. Hives are generally diagnosed by a clinical exam (if the hives are present at that time). Hives may also be diagnosed by speaking with your doctor about the symptoms that you have been experiencing like swelling, bumps and itchiness. If your doctor wants to find out the root cause for the hives he or she may do further tests including skin tests and possible blood work. It may difficult to determine what the root cause of the hives are because people encounter so many different stimulants, foods, temperatures, medications and more. You should see a doctor right away if you notice any difficulty breathing, swelling in the face, dizziness or congested chest.

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Treatment

The go-to treatment for hives is to remove the trigger that is causing them, whether it be avoiding certain foods, insect bites, soaps or the sun for extended periods of time. Some foods that can trigger a hive reaction include milk, eggs and chocolate. If you have recently gone on a new medication and got hives, your doctor may try to see if there is a more suitable medication for your problem that will not cause hives. Another common trigger for hives is temperature. If your body becomes too hot, too cold, or is sweaty, hives may occur. Some treatments that you can do at home include applying a cool compress, taking Epsom salt baths, wearing loose clothing that will not create unnecessary friction and avoiding scratching. Your doctor may recommend that you take an antihistamine to get rid of the symptoms associated with hives. If your hives occur on a somewhat regular basis you may want to take antihistamines routinely if prescribed by your health care provider.