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About Hives

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Hives, also known as urticaria, are red, itchy bumps on the skin caused by exposure to an irritant or allergen. The size and severity of these welts will vary, but they often migrate to various areas of the body and will usually go away within hours to days without leaving a scar. Chronic hives occur when welts are present for more than 6 weeks or recur frequently.

The common symptoms of hives include:

  • Patches of red raised welts on the skin
  • Itching
  • Swelling (also known as angioedema)

Hives can be triggered by all sorts of things. Exposure to an irritating substance (known as an allergen) will trigger your immune system’s allergic response, a release of chemicals called histamines. This reaction may result in hives and swelling.

Substances that may trigger hives include:

  • Pollen
  • Pet dander
  • Mold spores
  • Bacterial infections
  • Viral infections
  • Parasites or insect bites
  • Food allergies
  • Allergies to medication
  • Quick changes in body temperature
  • Sunlight
  • Alcohol
  • Allergies to latex or cleaning products

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, about one in five people will experience hives at some point in their lives. Only one in twenty will experience a case of chronic, or persistent, hives.

Hives rarely carry the risk of complications or more serious allergic reactions (such as anaphylaxis). If you are experiencing more severe symptoms of an allergic reaction like difficulty breathing, trouble swallowing, or dizziness, get medical help immediately.

Treatment Options

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Note that all prescriptions are at your provider's discretion.

Most outbreaks of hives will go away within a few days after the reaction occurs. Medical treatment is rarely needed, but a doctor or health care provider may be able to provide recommendations for how best to treat hives at home. Below is a list of methods used to reduce the symptoms of hives. During your appointment, talk to your health care provider about what treatment plan is best for you.