Hives

Hives are itchy welts on the skin.

They can range in size from a small dot to large welts that cover a lot of skin area, often connecting to form larger hives. Hives can be acute – meaning they come on very quickly. Most instances of acute hives last less than six weeks, although some people are affected by chronic hives.

WHAT CAUSES HIVES?

Anyone can get hives, but they often caused by an allergic reaction, often to foods or medications. Other causes of hives include:

• A recent viral or bacterial infection
• An allergy to certain medicines or foods
• A serious allergic reaction to insect bites or stings
• Heat, cold, exercise or sun exposure
• Latex allergies
• Blood transfusion

About 20 percent of the population is affected by hives at some point in their lifetime.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE HIVES?

Hives are usually pink or red raised patches on the skin.

Hives can form on any area on the body and sometimes can “travel” from one area to another. They are usually very itchy.

Sometimes extreme swelling can occurs. Hives can accompany angioedema where the eyelids and mouth can swell; if this happens or if you have trouble breathing or swallowing, you should treat it as an emergency and seek medical attention immediately.

HOW CAN HIVES BE TREATED?

At Midwest Dermatology, our physicians treat hives with antihistamines and steroids, both of which encourage your immune system to calm down and relieve symptoms.

If allergies are causing your hives, the best treatment is prevention. Avoiding allergens can help you prevent the recurrence of hives. Hives can happen within minutes of exposure to the trigger, or may be a delayed reaction of more than two hours. Identifying the allergen can be difficult and may require an elimination process that can take time. In some cases, the cause of the hives is not found. A referral to a physician specializing in allergies may be the next step.

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